Government-funded vs. private-funded education systems!

All have become “exploitative”! Lost their value focus!

Every time the education debate comes alive, there is this much-talked about promoting a common school system. The big names are all here: experts like Yash Pal, Krishna Kumar, Anil Sadgopal, social activists like Aruna Roy and others. What they say? Make education largely government-funded and the neighborhood schooling would promote equality, irrespective of caste, class and other discriminations. It was the common schooling still for the vast majority in the countryside.

But why it failed to meet targets? Money? Yes, the government funding is no more possible. Nor the states are willing to bet too much on this target for winning votes. So has come the English-medium schools even in remote villages! Even the poor and the Dalits want their children to study in English-medium! So, what you do?

It is not even who gets what education that is in need of serious enquiry. It is the exploitative nature of our entire education chain. The teachers in government and the private schools have lost their identity. They are now treated largely as slave labor, bonded labor. Even in the govt. schools or in the private schools teachers start from 6 in the morning and they come home late in the evening. In the govt. schools it is simple mechanical life and the entire process lost out in achieving any of the great education ideals propagated by education experts. It is a mindless game!

It is the private sector that had lately become more exploitative. From primary schools, to secondary schools, to colleges, self-financing to what have you, the private sector is sucking the blood of the parents and helpless students. In a recent account of their newly recruited Infosys 23 -year olds tell:” Our parents took education loans up to Rs.1.5 lakhs and educated us; we have got the first pay cheques up to Rs 17,000. We have to send the money back home to our parents”. This is no bliss; this is a confession of plain misery!

Yes, the IT guys, be it Narayanamurthy to his deputy Mr.Mohandas Pai, talk big, talk in big mind-boggling numbers and thoroughly distort the realities. We mean the ground level realities of India, the Indian youth aspirations, the Indian reality of an all-rounded growth of human resources for all sectors. The IT industry had been a great blessing. It gave India a new lift to pull itself from age old poverty trap. What the Indian governments couldn’t do, the IT industry, single-handedly had done it. We are world’s Software Superpower!

But then IT industry needs of manpower alone are not the entire Indian resources. We need people in all walks of life. We need a society that cares for many things. We need leaders in all walks of life. We need to create an exploitation free society, a knowledge society, a culture and a honesty and morality in our polity etc.

How all these multiple goals are to be achieved? Not just by listening to IT guy’s industry needs alone! That is the message.

Also, education goals of the Government of India, education for all, education of the girl child, education up to SSLC, education in colleges, OBC quotas, then the high quality manpower in IITs and IIMs all have to be provided by creating non-exploitative, open society.

How these laudable goals are to be achieved?

Anybody has an answer? Surely, the IT bigwigs don’t have the answer!

The answer, if at all any, has to come from a wider cross section of society, from thinkers and visionaries, from leaders of high caliber. It is this vision, an education vision that is based on robust common sense and a sense of history, a sense of the world as it is evolving that is called for.

Mr. Mohandas Pai, of Infosys, says rightly:” The tragedy of the whole IT revolution is that people are becoming less humane in the sense they are losing inter-personal skills, the ability to move with people, be sensitive to each other. The softer side of life is giving way…”

He is so right and we like to say to him and those like him who think that IT revolution alone would solve India’s many problems. They won’t.

The point is that education is all encompassing. It needs a deeper study and a deeper commitment to education as a basically liberal arts pursuit. We need all sorts of people, endowed with all sorts of gifts, artists, poets, thinkers, rebels and revolutionaries and much more a more educated, a more civilized elite class. The political elite class is equally needed today to deal with the rise of criminals in politics, the corrupt in politics, and the money grabbers in politics!

So, engineers alone and that too something like a few lakhs, as the IT projects that could make a new India. Culture needs to be looked into and so too, the values, the big subject of whether we are all committed to some basic beliefs, values or are we becoming a nation of narrow selfish interest groups?

Who cares for the poor, really? Not the Communists, see West Bengal! Not the caste leaders see the plight of the poor, the Dalits in all the major states of India!

See the religious fanaticisms, superstitions, the many disabilities the poor and the weaker sections suffer from. See also the rich and the exploitative classes, the so many short-cuts adopted by the rich and the powerful, be it grabbing the vast agri lands in the name of SEZs or the NPAs with public sector banks. Of course, the political class today is the most rapacious; see the crores of rupees in wealth declared everyday lately by new entrants into politics!

So, education ultimately boils down to what you really believe in! If you are the middle class professional, then your thinking is conditioned. If you are from the lower middle class then too you are meek in expressing your views. If you are also from the well-secured rich class, then you may talk loftily, but you yourself don’t speak the truth fully in all its splendor or harshness! So, education will be what it is! As given by the Indian realities. No black and white solutions are admissible in this paranoid and parasitic environment!
Education for everyone of us, positively speaking, can at best be an endless striving for realizing our dreams and ambitions!

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