We need Education for All, and a Drastic Policy Re-Think

Published on: January 6, 2016
children learn, how can technology be used for the purpose, if there should be dedicated teachers for classes 1 and 2 or improved training of teachers  etc. But these are really turning a blind eye to the problem or address some technicalities.

They admit that there are gaps in availability of trained teachers, good curriculum and innovative pedagogy; but do not proceed to find any real solutions to these crucial issues.

They admit there is the mushrooming of a pre primary/ play school industry (page 4) that is, private institutions in the country. But they do not commit any policy measure or drive against this rampant privatisation. 

They put questions on what should be the student assessment systems, but do not utter a single word on the disastrous effects of abolition of the pass-fail system. According to latest reports, under pressure from sharp criticism,  the HRDM may be thinking of reintroducing the pass-fail system;  yet it keeps on buying time on this or that plea, sending the matter afresh to one committee or another.

The policymakers stand for strengthening of a Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) for holistic development of students. (page 9) They may bring in some instance of successful use of the method in advanced western countries.

Have they kept in mind the fact that here is India, a country where barring a few privileged pockets and institutions, the infrastructure of educational institutions are at an all time wretched low,  not to speak of other factors like corruption at every point of the system and every stage of education process?

This is a country in which schools lack teachers (about 1,40,000 teaching posts are lying vacant in schools; only 1 teacher is there in 1,14,531 primary schools);

Government school buildings (in 1, 48,696 schools) are lacking, or have far from adequate class rooms, toilets (in 4, 55,561 schools) even for girls.

Surely, under these circumstances, it is delusionary to implement CCE as the only system of evaluation. 

As a part of this mobilisation, AISEC had stood against the NPE’86 and even circulated a publication entitled Towards a People’s Policy On Education: An Alternative to NPE’86  as a mark of concrete and constructive protest against both the privatisation and commercialisation of education.

The document circulated by the MHRD, besides, asks for general feedback of students, teachers and parents, regarding the no detention policy and the CCE.  The very hypothetical positioning of these two policy moves together, is baseless; for even in CCE there will remain the question of detention or no detention; If on the other hand one really means evaluation of how far a student might have learnt or not,  how well a teacher may have taught or not. 

Then again the Consultation Questionnaire includes one on International partnerships (page 4). With the state of infrastructure for the country as bad as illustrated in the statistics above, the shallow aspect of this draft questionnaire reveals cynicism at its worst. When poverty is the main cause for the reasons why students drop out, yet our policymakers suggest colourful furniture, rugs play way toys, charts, pictures (page 4) etc as special  attractive measures to draw students; games, art and confidence building measures (page 4) to retain them.

The government document, says in the Theme II (Extending outreach of Secondary and Senior Secondary Education):  Universal Elementary Education(UEE) becoming a reality (page5): Is Universal Education actually becoming a reality? No, the reality does not endorse the claim that elementary (pre-primary & primary) education has become universal. The document also claims that ‘initiatives such as RTE ….. would not only be increasing participation levels in elementary education but also substantially improve the internal efficiency of elementary education in the coming years’. Is this claim also based on surveys of the reality on the ground? No. This appears a clearly misplaced faith and confidence in the RTE, brought in by the Congress-led UPA government and which is now being also falsely placed a benchmark by the present BJP-led union government. 

The major contributions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 have been the following:

One. It does not cover all students, education at