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India's Education System in total disarray
Monday July 7, 2014 11:44 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com

The controversy surrounding the four-year undergraduate programmes (FYUP) by the Delhi University and its disapproval by the UGC has opened a Pandora box of issues that has set the India's education system into total disarray.

India Education

This starts from the primary education to the University education and there is no one to set right the mismanaged educational system in the country. As a result there is a deep morass among countrymen towards the rot that has set into the academic system in India.

The first and foremost reason for this is education is in the concurrent list where both the state and the central government have its jurisdiction. As a result there are central and state government run institutions in all the 29 states and 7 union territories. These are governed by the Ministry of education of the state and central government. Besides, there are private owned educational institutions that dot these states and Union territories.

India despite being among the top five countries with most children out of schools has seen the largest cuts in the aid to the basic education. Its aid to the sector has fell by $278 million between 2010 and 2012. As funds diminish, 57 million children and 69 million adolescents are still out of school in the country. When so many girls and boys are not learning, the continuing drop in funds for education is a matter of serious concern.

The answer to this is, the country has absolved itself from its socialist path and has tailed to corny capitalism giving free hand to the private players to bridge the educational gap. As a result an exploitative educational apparatus has spring up and acquired the centre stage in the entire country where everyone seems to be reeling under its burden.

The fault line is the quality and standards of education imparted in the government schools and colleges both run by central and state governments. The education is simply poor and inadequate. However, there is no justification for this. The salaries and perks paid to the teachers in such colleges are on par or even more than the private institutions. Most of the government institutions also have adequate facilities like laboratories etc, as the government provides the funds for it. Even then, government institutions lag far behind and are not favored by middle income group, who aspire to get their children educated in private institutions.

The problem arises due to the poor quality of administration and indiscipline in these government institutions. Government officers who work in the education department rarely visit the schools and colleges for inspection and when they do occasionally, they expect a red carpet welcome. It is often seen that local politicians enter the premises of the institutions and interfering in the administration.

Another ensuing feature is lack of capable and competent teachers in government schools and colleges. The frequent media reports about male teachers misbehaving with the girl students in such institutions are extremely disturbing.

This obviously indicates that teaching profession is not any more being able to attract committed and motivated people, who can take up teaching profession for its service oriented objectives. The scarcity of quality teachers have become too obvious and cannot be ignored anymore. This is a grim national reality.

Again there is no justification for poor quality of teachers. Teachers these days are highly paid in government institutions. They are paid even more than the private institutions, they have job security and good teachers always command high respect in the society.

If these are the issues surrounds government institution, the private education system is plagued by different set of issues. Private educational institutions have largely gone into the hands of business men and politicians. The tuition and other fees charged in the private schools and colleges are so exorbitant that it is beyond the reach of lower middle income group. The hard reality is that quality education now is available only for those who can afford to pay high fees.

The rapid quantitative expansion of educational facilities is mostly happening in the private sector. Such educational institutions are increasingly being set up by business men with the profit motive. Several politicians also now have become educationists. They have started many schools and colleges allegedly with their ill gotten money.

Such business men and politicians appoint their sons, daughters, nephews and nieces in academic and management positions, irrespective of their qualification, background and level of competence. Such business men / politician promoters are often seen to lack commitment to the required standards of education and they rarely understand the fact that through the educational institutions, the children in the formative age group have to be molded to become quality citizens.

Certainly, poor students are entitled to aspire for quality education that would provide them opportunities for growth and development, just as the students belonging to the affluent families. Inevitably, the deprived students look up to the government to provide them opportunities for education that would be of competitive standards.

In absence of quality education in government institution, parents of deprived students are running from pillar to post in search of good education. This leads them to the desire for admissions in private institutions. However, they do not have the resources to pay the exorbitant fees. The parents of such students working in government offices then indulge in corrupt practices to meet their ends. This Tom and Jerry game is going on for long in the country.

In such circumstances, the politicians and the bureaucrats running the government institutions are to be blamed for deteriorating educational standards in government institutions. A suggestion has been made that the best way to improve the standards of the government owned educational institutions is to make it compulsory that the sons and daughters of bureaucrats and ministers should study only in government institutions. After all they use government bunglows and government vehicles, why not they use government schools and colleges as well?

Further, the training institutions for teachers need to be considerably improved, by better and more scientific orientation programes for the teacher trainees. The teacher training courses have still not been suitably modernized and the students of these institutions are not being adequately sensitized with regard to their duties and responsibilities, which have far reaching implications on improving the educational standards in the country.

Last but not the least the recruitment of the teachers has to be made transparent and corruption free. The collegiate and higher education too needs a total revamp in the recruitment policy of its teachers. Again the same malaise that has set in the school and college education system dominates the higher education system in the country as well.

Added to all this, the government has to open more schools and colleges in tune with the demand of the population to check the mushrooming of the money sucking private institutions that is now filling the gap. Starting several educational institutions quantitatively and qualitatively by expanding the facilities would certainly put the cart before the horse to meet educational challenges.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has correctly said that the best way to support the cause of poor people is to provide them educational opportunities at good quality standards. This broad indication suggests revamping the education system in the country. Will the visionary and missionary Prime Minister take a lead in this? Sooner if this happens it would be better for the nation that aspires to have a global leadership.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com



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