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!

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.

And the decline of education  today!

books759India’s education sector is still running an erratic education policies. There is a vacuum of education vision and it needs an urgent attention. Yes, you may be one of the luckiest not to be bothered about the education of your youngsters! They might have gone through the hell already! But then how many can be so lucky? Every parent today is caught up with pain and dilemma! Where to educate their loved ones!

The education market in India is a very competitive market. Indian education scenario is no more what we all imagined to be so far. Today the rules of the education game had changed radically. Even this is a minor remark. Do you have an any idea of what Indian education is today? Indian education is almost a hell! There is so much money flowing in this sector. Also, there are many deeper issues of denial and deprivation. There are issues of justice in education. Has the goal of education for all achieved?

There are enormous number of  school-going age children out of school. There are many social, ethical and gender issues. The education of the girl-child is still unresolved. Under age marriage of girls is still widely prevailing. These are the issues and we need very satisfying outcomes. Then there are many new-fangled education technology tools that, on the one hand are enabling to reach all children online. This also costs money and expenses.

The role of private sector in education for a country like India is a great challenge.
We need private sector. But then there has to be some accountability. From LKG to secondary and even university education, we say, unresolved. New edutech impact on our education with all our achievements in IT don’t seem to have a socially relevant education perspective.

How to empower the people? A great question that cries for a satisfactory answer.

There are now education technology companies such as Byju’s, Talentedge, Simplilearn and Toppr, to cite only the most competitive and the most  ruthless ones that are all screaming loud about their power to change the rules of the education game! These top ‘performers’  are trying to grab a larger market share-both at home and abroad and also chasing talent to drive their growth.

Toppr, for instance which raised mind-boggling 35 million dollars three months ago, is looking  to add 1,000 employees across all functions this year. They are enhancing the EdTech platform working towards raising additional funds thorugh round D series.
Byju’s is hiring talent to develop its international product this year. Simplilearn, growing 40% year on year is planning to add 500 people this year. We have been constantly hiring fresh talent and seasoned professionals for a larger variety of roles-from sales and marketing to product, engineering and HR and finance and would continue to do so in the near future said Zishaan Hayath, CEO and co-founder of Toppr. We have just closed our series c round of funding and will be conducting series later this year. The company has grown from 400 to 1,300 employees.

Byju’s which employs 3,200 and is present in 40 locations launched its app in 2015 targeting K-12 students. Revenues in the last financial year was Rs.500 crores and it is on target to treble this year to Rs.1,400 crores, says Mrinal Mohit, the chief operating officer. Hiring talent across content, tech, media, business development and product.

Are these all just buzz words? Or, do they mean anything for the education sector?
Yes, these education imparting tech companies have their own agendas and let us believe they deliver something of value for the pursuers of their own dream goals?

But for a public observer these new education companies and their developments might not mean much. In particular, for the parents who are chasing their own dreams, these esoteric education enterprises – they and their buzz, the high power mass advertising games – these companies only add to their already existing tensions and further add to new tensions.

How can education be an esoteric game anymore? India has world’s largest democracy and world’s greatest number of children! Not an easy field. This is an India which is the world’s largest democracy where every citizen matters. We read every day students’ suicides. As we write this, there is news about a 10th standard student committing suicide in the distant Namakkal which is also a new type of education hub. We are quite accustomed to farmers suicides’. To this we have added the students suicide, one more category!

Just today we read one column in a mainstream newspapers – a column by Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Aayog, the chief planning body of the government of India. He outlines what the government has done for “transforming the learning curve”. Since he heads the chief planning commission, we expect him to say many things of value. All we are able to learn is the NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts programme. How has this programme impacted the learning scenario in India? We are not clear and we could not get any clue about the main lesson from the programme. We are sure that the NITI Aayog has much feedback. But as far as the public is concerned there is this impression that Indian education has become more and more commercialised and there is much private sector engagement to bring in quality education at many levels of our education sector. Certainly, there is much buzz in secondary education sector.

There is mushrooming of capitation-feepaying colleges and self-financing universities! This is a very exploitative sector as of now! The education fees must be regulated and poor sections of students must be having a sort of quota. Unfortunately, education policy making is poor. Education policy making has been uneven. From the 1966 Kothari Commission report to recent Smriti Irani erratic education policy making by all and sundry bureaucrats led to an education emergency that still runs its course! We need big minds and big vision!