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Contemporary School Education In India: A Critical Appraisal
Saturday October 5, 2013 10:59 PM, Swaleha Sindhi & Adfer.R.Shah

The word "Education" is defined as; (1) Systematic instruction, (2) Particular kind of stage in education and (3) Development of character or mental powers (Oxford dictionary, 1999 ed, Oxford university press). With the passage of time the idea of education has undergone paradigm shifts. However, despite the multiple of criticisms over the years, education in its quintessential form remains a process of learning of newer knowledge, information, concepts, modes, manners, methodologies, involving two parties i.e. the educator and the educant. Schools being the place of basic education are given high importance in India. Apart from imparting classroom education many of these schools aim at overall improvement of a child. The famous philosopher Einstein while discussing the need for education has projected the following fundamentals:

• To educate the individual as a free individual; to understand and use critical thinking skills.

• To educate the individual as a part of society – virtually all our knowledge, our clothes, our food is produced by others in our society, thus, we owe Society and have responsibility to contribute back to Society.

• Through education, knowledge must continually be renewed by ceaseless effort, if it is not to be lost. It resembles a statute of marble which stands in the desert and is continually threatened with burial by the shifting sand. The hands of service must ever be at work, in order that the marble continue to lastingly shine in the sun.

While discussing the importance of education, it is important to state that schools have become the most important means of transforming wealth of knowledge and skills from one generation to another. However, the role of institutions becomes more challenging in the modern world with innovations and technological developments. Investment in education and educational institutions should be viewed as an investment for economic prosperity.

If the concept of "education" is restricted merely to the process of acquiring facts and loads of numerical information, so as to be able to reproduce them in examination, designed by a bunch of conventional curriculum designers, with staunch belief in the superiority of the intellect using rote learning methodologies, will be an abysmal reduction of an area that demands careful cognition.

It would also be as good as to careless negligence of higher order intelligence.

Policies on Education
The hind sighted policies of the centre and the state have played a major spoilsport and have created massive hindrances in the path of ethical and morally upright ways of development. The very act of inclusion of the Right to Education is the list of "fundamental rights" as late as, 63 years i.e. 2009 after having attained independence, which till then was included in the "directive Principles of state policy" speaks volumes about the failure of the centre and the states to act in partnership and lay the foundation stone of a thriving democracy.

However with "education "having received the status of a fundamental right, no longer can the administration at the state and the central level shy away from the responsibility of imparting free and fair education for one and all. The only hindrance can perhaps recur, due to laxity in policy implementation, political interests of the parties in power, and also foul play by some of our namesake charity doers.

Sadly yet truly, due to lack of well framed and foresighted policies poor planning and lack stringent supervision, control, inspection, evaluation and in specific inept monitoring has resulted imbalanced educational scenario.

The large measure of nouveau entrepreneurs in this sector called education seem to be interested in merely their quarter profits and seemingly yet hard to affirm, disinterested in ensuring quality educational content to their eager and enthusiastic learners in return of exorbitantly designed fee structure.

The newly passed "prohibition of unfair practices in schools Bill 2012"truly suggests how manipulations malpractices and unethical ways have been resorted to by schools merely to ensure false sense of goodwill, pride and reputation at the cost of truth.

A glance at the document and its clauses would bear ample testimony to the corruption that has seeped and permeated into each and every pore of the existed system of education in our country.

There is no dearth of commissions that the government has set up since the dawn of independence for instance the first commission of education was set up in 1948, later on several committees have been informed time and again such as the Radhakrishnan commission the Mudliar commission the Kothari commission (1954-66) the Verappa Moily commission the National Policy on Education and the establishment of autonomous bodies such as the NCERT and NCTE.

Current Realities
There are several public schools in major developed cities of India, but they have exorbitant fee structure high capitation fee, with major emphasis on garish displays of wealth e.g. gala celebrations, grand buildings but with least minimum interest in competently qualified staff well educated and well trained teachers or administrative staff, they do not hesitate employing a teacher without a basic B.Ed degree. It is quite evident that such bodies have hardly had any interest in the educational development of the individual and socio cultural growth of the society.

Another reason for lack of interest of such bodies is perhaps the control of business people and corporate houses over the most of the privately managed educational enterprises. The sole purpose for such enterprises is making profits in the otherwise sacrosanct humanistic venture like "education".

It is very obvious from the management wise secondary schools data that in government schools more trained teachers were available than in private un-aided schools. The government schools had about 80 per cent trained and qualified teachers. The private un-aided schools were having 65.5 per cent and 56.8 per cent qualified and trained teachers for secondary classes respectively. However, public opinion is that private un-aided schools provided better learning opportunities to their children. The data gives quite a different picture.

To sum up, we need to recognize that the knowledge, skills and productivity of our growing young and dynamic work force forms the backbone of our economy.

To reap the benefits of such a young work force, we need to implement the reforms in the education system and also bring forth new factors of production, namely knowledge, skills and technology which have the ability to unleash the productive frontiers of the economy in the most efficient and dynamic way.

There is a need of regulation or some kind of monitoring by developing regulatory mechanism to focus on low quality of private unaided schools serving in the country.

The need of regulation becomes all the more important after the implementation of Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009. Care needs to be taken that these regulations should be both for government as well as for private schools.

[Ms.Swaleha.A.Sindhi is Assistant Professor at The M.S.University of Baroda; Gujarat & Mr.Adfer.R.Shah is Research Assistant at SNCWS, New Delhi. Email:]

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