Not as much as you imagined. How to correct deficiencies?
Best ideas don’t come on their own. You have to push it from outside. As in politics, so in education. A brief news item on the use of computers in schools was shocking. In Karnataka, the most IT savvy state the use of computers, in Bangalore schools, the very hotbed of IT industry and a greater awareness of the parents, one supposed that it should be at the top of the league. No, it is just very poor, at a miserable 38%! The national average is another dismal record; it is only a very disappointing 26.42%.
What about the other states? As per the HRD assessment, it is 100% for the far-off Lakshadweep, Puducherry it a fine 97.81%, Chandigarh, yet again a bright spot with 95.43%, Kerala 93.77%, Delhi 81% and the others are not listed. But the bottom five are listed.
It is 8.19% for Bihar, poor Nitish Kumar and the garrulous Lalu Prasad must really hold their heads a bit lower and the supposedly backward states like, Jharkhand, Assam, Meghalaya and Chhattisgarh; they all have to make a very long way to stand up and be counted. What about the high profile states like, say Gujarat and TN where two leaders of these states are making waves, rightly or wrongly? No data is given. Fear or other apprehensions?
One has to look into it deeply. What about Chandrababu Naidu’s Andhra Pradesh? We are sure he is acutely conscious. Let us hope these data would make and wake everyone to do the rest.
Now, as in politics and in education, the best ideas don’t come on their own. Even in a democracy like India do we see new ideas, best ideas come out and impact the polity and society?
This year’s Nobel Prize for Peace was given to Tunisian civil society groups, four of them for what the Norwegian academy said for saving democracy in the face of other Arab Spring countries for ushering in democracy, rather than giving way to authoritarian regimes. Given the nature of politics, also democratic politics, even in India, we have the danger of not doing enough by civil society and media and letting thing drift into chaos and thereby into more authoritarian politics. So too, in our view, it is also education that at the moment suffers from some imaginative leadership in education. The ministry is only one side of the reality.
Of course, it is politics that shapes education priorities.
In higher education, the HRD had slipped in trying to oust some high profile Vice Chancellors! It is not the HRD job to flour rules. The President as the visitor of these universities had stopped the HRD messing matters further. So too in school education. The CBSE is not God, right.
First you ousted German language, now you have reversed. So you have no vision and education policy as such. Now, when it comes to teaching computers, we say that some IT experts must advise the MHRD and say that, make computer teaching compulsory for students before they pass out of the schools. There must be a policy to link the very populist schemes to distribute free laptops, one of the voter inducements.
Now make it an integral school education policy to make every student, in every school of India, to learn computers. It must be much more easier when the smart phones are within the reach of every household. Let us fix a time frame so that within which universalization of computer teaching must be reached. So too other subjects like GK. Every year the GK must carry such knowledge as part of the exams.
Let some thinkers, intellectuals, writers and others come out and say openly about what should be the priorities in education. The universalization of secondary education must now be within the reach of every citizen student.