Welcome to an easy season for school education

After a long time there was this easy season for the school education. The secondary education lately has become a mad house for all sorts of ills and inequities and a sense of suppression and oppression for the parent community. There is a mad rush for admissions for all sorts of schools and the parents, the middle class and for also, not the so-called uneducated poor families, the education system has been wronging them for too long.

No education minister of any sort, seniors and junior leaders have thought of this self-inflicted injury to one’s own self-esteem. We seem to have become a new type of illiterates!

Don’t we see our children at home and understand the tensions and bad behaviours. The children are pressed for performing at schools. All sorts of transports are busy the whole early mornings and also in the late afternoons. Are there any education ministers speaking? Even the Central education establishment, from the ministers to secretaries don’t seem to be concerned. Only if you feel oppressed or you think it is your obligation to the parents you would speak out and share your concerns. If you don’t feel anything at all then what can the public expect from you – the person in charge of this hell-hole, so to say, that holds the innocents to ransom!

So, there is this unspeaking evil we are all perpetuating in the name of modern education. There seems to be along queue for getting licences for establishing new CBSE schools even in the remote areas of the states. In one city, for instance, like Erode in Tamil Nadu, there is an intense competition, and if anyone gets this certificate to start an institution, a group of people join together and they decide the initial investment and with no infrastructure they manage to collect together a minimum number of students and a success story in education entrepreneurship.

So, education is all about competition, mindless competition for crushing the young minds with utterly unqualified founders to produce exam results. Immediately the very next day the rank holders are advertised full-page in colour these days in all the neighbourhood newspapers and you get so disgusted and degenerated. For what these so-called schools and colleges do is sheer exploitation of the fear and uncertainty about their own children. So, luckily, after so much of public disgust the government has come out banning the advertisement of the innocent faces of the so-called successful students.

Tamil Nadu has come in for public criticism that this year the education department has come out banning many so-called engineering colleges, in fact a record number of 92 engineering colleges from admitting students for lack of infrastructure. Why many more have been banned in admitting students for BE, M.E etc. Of course the very political atmosphere is that there are many capitation fee colleges wherein you can walk in and join any of the courses.

So, this year’s surprise results where many thousands had got 100% marks and that too in social sciences is a great news! Also there are newspaper reports that the correction of the question papers was done in a record time and with a very squeezed number of examiners. More to the point is the report that there might have been one more angle for the exercise of an easy valuation. What is it likely? Could there be a political angle? The 2019 general election also came in timely. So, the powers might have thought to give the voters, the much harassed parents to come forward to vote the incumbent dispensation!

Please let us all ponder over the freak season of this year. Of course these sort of views have to be articulated and assessed by education observers and experts. We can only ask some questions that are both comfortable as well as uncomfortable. Anyway, the School Journal sends its good wishes and congratulations to all youngsters for performing so well in this year’s exams!

Nothing gives more pleasure than finding youngsters to feel so confident and morally courageous to face the future in such a scenario.

The new government’s education is about what?
Is it about making India an educated and civilised country and society?

Or, is it all about political brain-washing? You see, one has to have a critical mind, an objective mind to talk about serious issue like education and related fields. Education is all about awakening people, a country and its citizens. We are not yet sure about the new education policy for what the Prime Minister calls, New India. Does a New India have many things or the slogan can simply remain a slogan and might not mean anything. There are some reservations or misgivings, if the readers see the issues so. The Kasturirangan Education ‘draft report’ remains inaccessible as on date and the very few passages quoted by media comments make one feel uncomfortable a bit. There is a reference for setting up, for instance, a school for Persian and other oriental languages. Why, of all languages, the most sacred of the Persian culture teaching in India?

Also, the controversy that erupted and not so far died the three language formula and the history from the pre-independent days! Why Hindi now, when the languages is already spreading in the South the exodus of the North Indian labour from North East and other Hindi speaking areas like UP and Bihar to other States. The BJP regime could further inflame the language controversy. Please avoid this issue. Let Hindi spread on its own distinction. Let the languages study be carried out by scholars and not by language fanatics who are everywhere, not just inside India but also in other countries in Europe.

Now, coming to the main stream education, you see the current education scenario must get attention from the honourable members of the Committee. Do the hon’ble members think the current situation in education scene anything to be cheered about or feel distressed? The problem in India is that we, as inheritors of the British colonial legacy are highly conditioned by inferior complex, we feel uncomfortable to call a spade a spade! Education has deteriorated into sheer money making venture. See, travel to any part of the country, there are always schools and coaching centres. There is a craze to make money out of the ambitious and ruthless middle classes to ensure the selfish goals of making their wards alone as competitive and succeeding! Now corruption in admissions had crept into even the US institutions! So, the UK and the US universities are looking for Indian students and the education fees are so high.

Inside India too, the changes in the politics in the states is such that there are over 500 self-financing engineering colleges and this year, some 15 colleges had stopped admissions for the simple reason that there is no infrastructure and also there are no students. In a lighter vein we can say, after you travel in the South, in one district town there are some 10 or even more colleges under one persona the founder! Some of them whom we know well are not even worthy of such honours. But what about the politician turned education entrepreneur nexus? There are many other trades in which these education entrepreneurs are engaged together! Some have become even elected members of the Lok Sabha! Corrupt and criminal linked law makers now would make laws for the hapless citizens.
Where we are going? The education minds must ask themselves! Education thinkers are now divided into the progressive and the backward minded, medieval minded ones! Can you rewrite history? This is also a question the Education experts must answer. Simply to please a government in power at the moment and to give education ideas is a disservice to nation. We can use a different language but we don’t to spoil the party when it is going well!

Education, culture, heritage, why even the tradition and modernity are all heavily-loaded words and concepts and you have to mention whom you have all met and consulted in making the report. That would only enhance the status of the report also. We have to run education not into a commodity. May be the one positive change we see is the coming of the one or two private universities with internationally recruited faculty. That gives some hope and positive change. Let us see!

The first five years must be an indication!
Will the new education reform report really change the Indian education?

What is the current status of the Indian education? Nobody has raised these questions so far. Now, the Modi government with its massive election victory mandate has all the powers to restructurethe Indian education as it wants.What are the likely chances to recast the Indian education? You see, there is really an all pervasive fear across the entirespectrum of public opinion.

No one, even pro-BJP intellectuals so farhave opened their mouths and expressed any new idea, even controversial ideas. From the initial few pronouncements the new minister, the Hon’ble education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, it looks he too seem to be of the same old schools. He has championed the cause of theHindutva ideology, teaching Indian values of the special kind and wehave to really wait for some more time before the entire Kasturirangan Committee report is made public. It looks the said 480-odd pagesreport must be of substantial value and we have to see how the latest report came to be written and who are really the members who prepared the report.

As far as we know that when Smriti Irani was the HRD minister sheappointed some bureaucrats, one was a former Cabinet Secretary, to write an education reform report. The contestants of the report were not made public and yet for many reasons we don’t know what happened to the report. And the very same minister also appointed another committee with again former bureaucrats of the NCERT and other officials were made members. This report also did not see the light of the day.

We are of the opinion that bureaucrats are not the best choices for an education reform proposal. Anyhow, these reports vanished and now weare told that there is a Kasturirangan report on education. Also, we don’t know who are the members of this committee and also when this report was prepared. During the previous regime, it seems the report was prepared. Then, why so much secrecy and other reasons when this report is mentioned but no public discussion or debate on this report is being talked about. Dr.Kasturirangan is an eminent scientist, a former chairman of the ISRO and of course has wide experience and a competent person for the education reforms debate. But let us first debate and discuss in public and let education thinkers and experts and others, specially from fields like culture and arts, even from other disciplines and this diverse knowledge and expertise can be best utilised when we debate a subject like education.

Now, as for the status of education we have to be open-minded and really concerned about the way the whole field of education had deteriorated. We in this journal are engaged in the field of education for nearly half a century! We have a long story to tell and lot of experience to share with the fellow educators. We had been in politics, an elected member of the then Madras Legislative Council (from the Graduates Constituency) luminaries like Dr.A.Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar, who presided over the Madras University for an unbroken tenure of 27 long years! Ironically, it was at the hands of our own Private Member Bill on fixing the tenure of the Vice Chancellor; the tenure of the great educator was terminated! So, our own experience in founding a high School in a remote village as an experimental school; the experiment invited much attention and we had also widely travelled in Europe and visited many distinguished French Lycées and other public schools. So, we speak with some inside knowledge of how schools function.

Let us be realistic about how our education, from LKG to other stages are highly commercialised and also education process has become socorrupt, from the self-financing colleges to other currently-obsessive various exams-oriented tuitions to other competitive exams. Is this all education? Or is this the very degeneration of education? And to add to this all-round fall in standards and values, we have nowthe new challenge of indoctrination of the Hindutva ideology! How much the new education draft report is meeting this demand? Naturally, this indoctrination issue would colour the rest of the recommendations. As far as the very tone of the current obsessions ofparents and students to get admissions into quality schools, in theprivate sector with such high fees where the educator-turned entrepreneurs, as we can see in TN and elsewhere, these educators entering all the fields from politics to other business areas and given the sort of corrupt practices that have entered into education-businessmen, they are also in some case well-known corrupt politicians. One wonders whether Indian education is really reformed on modernlines and whether modern knowledge can be imparted with such medieval mindsets!

There is an air of total artificiality about education reform today. Many senior educators, scientists and education administrator’s had resigned and went away and not one such senior educator would bewilling to come forward to take up any new responsibility.We feel that higher education is also in shambles. There is so much mediocrity in the universities and we don’t think we can do justice to this sector in one brief editorial. Also, the new breed of educationministers is of very poor quality and there are ministers for school education and also there are ministers for higher education! And the new breed of Vice-Chancellors! Any education reform committee must take up some case studies and examine in some great depth and details how to recast the selection of the VCs. It looks right now, it is an impossible task!

We really fail to make any realistic recommendations. For we know well, how the governments would take such recommendations. The concept of the Central Universities is also a tragic story of political whims and fancies, some universities are selected near some Chief Minister’s native villages! What sort of university it would turn out? Simply, let us imagine such a scenario! So, we are in such an impossible position to discuss other policies like child education, nutrition etc. Education change in India at present seems an impossible task! God forbid! Our children today are so unlucky! Sorry for this dismal outlook!

What are the lessons of 2019 elections?
What are the implications for the second term?
So, it is death for the Congress party?

The exit polls have been dampening for one section and the NDA might be too much to be ready for their impact on the Indian mind! Yes, the 2019 elections have been a watershed, as they say. The redoubling strength of the BJP in the new opportunity might spell new developments and also new anxieties. The media is full of such anxieties, after looking around the world and the outside world and also the recent world history and events. “Is the cruellest month” said the great poet T.S.Eliot, the Nobel winner for his epoch making poetry. On April 25th Italy celebrated its Liberation Day! Remember on the April 25th, 1945 the Italian dictator, the fascist leader Benito Mussolini was disposed off from power. Today there is Rightwing resurgence everywhere, in Italy, Austria and even Spain. Is this an international trend? Thinking Indians can deliberate.

The only point we want to make is that today democracy is itself a word that is turned upwards down! In many parts of the world, politicians capture power, yes, through elections and also turn it towards an oppressive and suppressive instrument of state. Many features, many freedoms we hold dear might lose their meanings. So, there are so many sad things about democracy today.

How India would play its role and how it would earn its spurs in the comity of nations must be uppermost in many minds. Now, for the Congress party the message is clear. As this media has been focussing for long the Indian National Congress can’t remain anymore as family party. It can’t remain as one tied to Sonia Gandhi’s incompetence and for the ruin of a great democracy.

Please resign and go! This is the message. Restore inner party democracy. All the time servers and family retainers leave the CWC and other bodies. Go back and adopt a sort of Kamaraj Plan! That is the plain and blunt message! Criticism is the blood of life and democracy. Also came through the debate were the observations that the media in India is not a free world. And the pores are captive at many levels. Also there is criticism that the mainstream media, the big ones, both the print and the electronic media are in the ownership of the big industrial houses.

These are not new criticisms but now, after the 5 years of BJP rule the whole Indian media scene has changed. Anyway, the 2019 General Elections is an unprecedented event, so much violence and so much bad words and so much violations of model code of conduct and so much explicit bias in the EC and other agencies and so much bad blood and so much vulgarity and so much heat and anger is surely a blot on the good name of India, of Indian people.

We are not sure how the outcome of the election would turn out and assuming the takeover of power by the new government would give us some indication how the future of India pan out. For one thing, the level of public debate was debasing to say the least. Political morality took a beating and the good of the Indian people suffered an irreparable loss. All through the torrent of the rhetoric, mostly empty rhetoric not once, not for a brief moment we heard about the weighty issues of the day, weighty issues of the future India and the world is going to face. Indian agriculture, yes there were references to the agrarian distress?

But what response from the weighty people, the great leaders, the vociferous speeches of all the ambitious and aspiring Prime Ministerial candidates, can we take as the chief front runners to be Mayawathi, KCR, Chandrababu Naidu or Sharad Pawar all very able leaders no doubt. But can we expect from them some modicum of truth and honesty and perspective and vision and some degree of sobriety?

Let us hope so.

A Prime Minister to lead a country like, a great and diverse and a very ancient nation with so much to contribute to the world, we write on the Buddha Poornima day(!),so we have to couch our words with some duty to history. India should be able to win the confidence of the big and small nations. India under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru days, V.K.Krishna Menon, his deputy used to say: India counts and Indian counts in the comity of nation. That was when India was poor, there were food shortages, we lived from ship to mouth etc. Poverty was widespread and Nehruji once said at a Santiniketan public meeting: The outside world asks: how can you develop? No resources then, after a small pause Nehruji would say: India has apanch varsha yojana hei, we have a five year plan, we would develop. And let the young readers of today also know.

By the side of Panditji sat none other than the great expert and intellectual, P.C.Mahalanobis, the author of planning and statistics then. It was P.C.Mahalanobis who laid the foundation for gathering statistics to draw up future plans! How thrilling and inspiring!

India did evolve in the years to come and today, after five years of so much rhetoric and much else we are talking like illiterate villagers, sorry to call the villagers to say so. They, the villagers might be the ones to deduce the outcome of the 2019 elections. Truth and honesty, humility and much else, the core values India is proud of, tolerance, decency etc are also values. To call the Godse as the patriot is the height of idiocy. So, Indian people are duty bound to safeguard democracy. Long live democracy!

Welcome to an easy season for school education

After a long time there was this easy season for the school education. The secondary education lately has become a mad house for all sorts of ills and inequities and a sense of suppression and oppression for the parent community. There is a mad rush for admissions for all sorts of schools and the parents, the middle class and for also, not the so-called uneducated poor families, the education system has been wronging them for too long.

No education minister of any sort, seniors and junior leaders have thought of this self-inflicted injury to one’s own self-esteem. We seem to have become a new type of illiterates!

Don’t we see our children at home and understand the tensions and bad behaviours. The children are pressed for performing at schools. All sorts of transports are busy the whole early mornings and also in the late afternoons. Are there any education ministers speaking? Even the Central education establishment, from the ministers to secretaries don’t seem to be concerned. Only if you feel oppressed or you think it is your obligation to the parents you would speak out and share your concerns. If you don’t feel anything at all then what can the public expect from you – the person in charge of this hell-hole, so to say, that holds the innocents to ransom!

So, there is this unspeaking evil we are all perpetuating in the name of modern education. There seems to be along queue for getting licences for establishing new CBSE schools even in the remote areas of the states. In one city, for instance, like Erode in Tamil Nadu, there is an intense competition, and if anyone gets this certificate to start an institution, a group of people join together and they decide the initial investment and with no infrastructure they manage to collect together a minimum number of students and a success story in education entrepreneurship.

So, education is all about competition, mindless competition for crushing the young minds with utterly unqualified founders to produce exam results. Immediately the very next day the rank holders are advertised full-page in colour these days in all the neighbourhood newspapers and you get so disgusted and degenerated. For what these so-called schools and colleges do is sheer exploitation of the fear and uncertainty about their own children. So, luckily, after so much of public disgust the government has come out banning the advertisement of the innocent faces of the so-called successful students.

Tamil Nadu has come in for public criticism that this year the education department has come out banning many so-called engineering colleges, in fact a record number of 92 engineering colleges from admitting students for lack of infrastructure. Why many more have been banned in admitting students for BE, M.E etc. Of course the very political atmosphere is that there are many capitation fee colleges wherein you can walk in and join any of the courses.

So, this year’s surprise results where many thousands had got 100% marks and that too in social sciences is a great news! Also there are newspaper reports that the correction of the question papers was done in a record time and with a very squeezed number of examiners. More to the point is the report that there might have been one more angle for the exercise of an easy valuation. What is it likely? Could there be a political angle? The 2019 general election also came in timely. So, the powers might have thought to give the voters, the much harassed parents to come forward to vote the incumbent dispensation!

Please let us all ponder over the freak season of this year. Of course these sort of views have to be articulated and assessed by education observers and experts. We can only ask some questions that are both comfortable as well as uncomfortable. Anyway, the School Journal sends its good wishes and congratulations to all youngsters for performing so well in this year’s exams!

Nothing gives more pleasure than finding youngsters to feel so confident and morally courageous to face the future in such a scenario.