C Thangminlal Doungel
I am affirmative, that, the financial packages announced by the state government few days ago, to aid all meritorious students passing from government schools must have brought a lot of cheers; not just amongst the parents, but the student community as well. Perhaps the move is a sign of renewed hope and fresh commitment by the government towards Education. This initiative no doubt has captured massive attention, because it is a rare and a bold step taken by the BJP government since it came to power. And no doubt the government deserves accolades and plaudits for the surprises it throws time to time.
Knowing whose responsibility: However, I wish to examine this from a different standpoint. To me, the government is only fulfilling its mandated task, and therefore does not require so much of exaltation from the common man. And so, to just applaud the historic move and be satiated by whatever the government does, even before substantial outcome is in the offing might be too over ambitious. The fact that this has come, when the annual status of Education report (ASER) 2017-2018 is released, there is an imminent skepticism, if this aspiration of the government will have the desired impact at all. Almost a decade since the RTE came into effect in April 2010, hardly, there is a concrete step taken to actually minimize the crisis that has plagued our government schools. Starting from the school buildings to Students, and Teachers to the administration, there are fallouts at almost every stage of school learning. And the “good hope” that the government opined at this point in time, to reap the fruit of malnourished government schools, is like expecting a fruit out of season. This year the National Achievement Survey (NAS) unlike other years was conducted taking into account only 14-18 years age group, with the exercise pertaining only to one or two districts per states. Therefore the survey data outcome does not represent a true picture of how the state government schools entails thus far at all levels. And to conclude that Students of this age, who will be appearing for the matric and higher secondary exams will outshine their peers from private schools, is a mammoth expectation bound for disappointment. Because few well nurtured government schools in the urban settings does not represent wholly of the Government schools. And the imminent truth remains; only those students who can afford private tuitions even from government schools, will only make it to the merit list, to avail the lustrous packages. Can we then actually credit the government school for the laurels to come?
Where are the loopholes?
Let us go back to the basics. There are hardly any government schools in the rural areas, where poor students studies that will have a chance to stand against the goliath private schools. And if the intention of the government is to help students from poor families, then, we have truly misplaced our priorities and the target is hollow. Because there are loopholes that needs to be abridged before embarking on such a gigantic project. Let us not forget the step-motherly treatment given to the Council Teachers who plays a vital role in fortifying the foundation of the pillars we assert to build. Far from recognizing their work like other educational departments, they are left to fend all odds for themselves. They are taken for granted, their service in imparting education is considered second to everything. They are not paid their renumeration for months and months and left to beg hand to mouth. Their dreadful situation has proliferated the sufferings of their families. All these are prominent signs that, government approach towards education has leapfrogged many pertinent elements that are paramount in ensuring the fruit it earnestly desire to reap. I am afraid, if this is where our experience and luminous minds have brought us, we have utterly failed in our mission to ensure the “Right Education” let alone the basics. In addition the apathy and negligence of the government in disbursement of the minorities scholarship for the academic year 2017 is a clear proof of it’s inability to sustain it’s governance credibility. And the present government should be mindful, that even the previous government (Congress) was not this callous in it’s approach towards the same.
Way forward: The time is pregnant to take a paradigm shift from the present status quoits position, to avoid further lacunas in our endeavor to harvest the fruit of universal right to education in the state. The government should deepen and broaden its understanding of the reality and work towards realizing its quest for the ultimate goal. Firstly, it should ascertain that the problem is multifold, and that, it’s “one-size-fits-for-all” solutions is an obsolete enlightenment. Secondly, the government should make consistency it’s second skin while committing itself to ensure the universal right to education, before raising it’s expectation too high. Lastly, the government should not be too ambitious in making announcements just to gratify the ignorant, which is not in congruence with it’s own ideals. The ultimate success of the project therefore lies with the government flexibility to address the things that requires immediate attention; and not simply adverting peoples attention with one that sounds like a dubious manifestoes.
(The writer is post graduate in sociology, Delhi School of Economics, DU and a freelance writer)
C Thangminlal Doungel