Thursday, March 14, 2013

Education: Fallacy is in its execution.

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram referred education as one of the high priority for the government. He allocated Rs 65,867 crores to HRD Ministry for education, which is an increase of 17% over the revised estimate of the previous year.

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) has got Rs. 27,258 crores. Overall, schools would get Rs 49,659 crore, and higher education would get Rs 16,198 crore. The Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan programme, which aims at universalisation of secondary education, has got Rs 3983 crores. Education budget also covers the mid-day meal programme, which has been allotted Rs 13,215 crores.

Budgetary allocations for education has been significant and consistent across five year plans. However, the story of education in India is a sad one. Since Pt. Nehru, Government is able to create a vast number of schools across all states providing practically free education.

But the concern was in the execution and running of those schools. These free schools were uniformly badly managed. Firstly, the first two five-year plans gave more emphasis to secondary education. Secondly, these schools were in the vernacular language, where English was just a subject.

Given the 200 years of British rule and our tendency to learn English to become a brown sahib, very soon the Indian middle class shunned the public Government run schools. They started making bee-line towards the missionary schools and other private schools.

It was next to impossible for private schools to meet the increasing demands of the middle class. Shortage of supply started the tradition of donations and favouritism. It was a capitalist culture being built right at the schools where modern India was getting their education.

According to a study by 'Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh represented India and were ranked just above Kyrgyzstan, which was ranked last in mathematics and overall reading skills among 74 nations.

According to another study, there are a large number of vacancies in key posts of implementing officer in the district and block levels, hampering the implementation of the Government schemes related to education, aimed at universalizing schooling for all children in the 6-14 age group. About 60% of such posts are vacant in Bihar, the study said.

Allocating 65000 crores in the budget is therefore not the solution. We may end up just repeating the mistakes. The need is to overhaul policies spending it on education. Government schools need to reach up to the middle and lower middle class with innovative marketing and sales strategies. The quality of education should be benchmarked against the best of schools around the world.  

1 comment:

  1. Lack of political will to make a postive change at the grass root level is the reason our country is not progressing the way it deserves. We cannot ride the wave of development on the backs of a 5-10% of hardworking/committed population. Unless the government takes real interest in developing the nation, India is going to remain the same uneducated, underfed nation even 200 years from now.
    Either the government has to change or their mindset.


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