The new dispensation has fixed its top priorities, ten of them reminding us of the ten commandments! Priority number 2 states: Prioritise education, energy and water. Mr Modi has repeatedly during his campaigns said that the expectations of the education system remain to be fulfilled
. This is music to my ears as I have always propounded that only quality
education for all will help bring about the India's of our dreams.
I have my take on education and state with conviction as for the last almost decade and a half I have been up close and personal with what goes in the name of education in our capital city. I have often written about this but feel that few take heed of my rants and raves. But I will soldier on stubbornly in the hope that I am heard.
Education in the other half of the city, the one the previous dispensation even hid behind giant placards during the infamous Commonwealth Games , is nothing but a sad and now jaded joke played year after year on millions of voiceless and helpless children. Though the city has large earmarked plots for schools, the 'schools' built on them can vary from enabling to forbidding. While some have adequate buildings others have one storied barracks with asbestos sheets and yet others have tents and classes in the open. This in a city with varied and often inclement weather. Some have desks often broken and splintered making them dangerous for children, some even have desks that are too high for the students who learn standing. I guess getting someone to cut the legs is an administrative procedure that may take ages! Toilets and drinking water facilities are also of diverse degree: from adequate to non-existent. A toilet without a door is a no no for a young girl you will agree. Where there are 'playgrounds' these are often unusable and dangerous. The husband recently was willing to upgrade the grounds of the school next ground and get coaches and equipment but was met with the hydra headed monster of red tape even though he was not asking for a penny and was creating the facility solely for the children of the school.
I could go on and on but I guess you get the picture. But there is more. After 67 years of Independence we have not been capable of building sufficient schools for the children of the capital and hence the same building is used in two shifts and our boys go to school in the afternoon when we all know capacities are diminished. And if that was enough, classes are overcrowded. In some cases there are over 120 kids in a class. This is mostly the case with girls, are even illiterate parents have now understood that the state run schools are not up to the mark so send their 'sons' to the myriad of private schools that have mushroomed to fill the gap.
In this situation the abysmal pass percentage of 33% and the no fail policy till class VIII is a no fail policy for large numbers of drop outs post class VIII drop outs that sometimes can barely read and write.
I would urge our new Education Minister to please hike up the pass percentage to 50% as elsewhere in the world and to reframe the no fail policy in a way that it ensures that a child moves on to the next class only if he has mastered the curriculum of the class s/he is in. Whatever the reason for lowering the pass percentage - I was told it was to increase the number of 'graduates' to access funds - it is absolutely detrimental to the child and no one has the right to play with any child's future. I cannot begin to count the number of kids we have salvaged from these conditions, kids who have not only passed but become toppers.
The children of India deserve better and I hope our new PM and Education Minister will stand by them. They have waited for far too long!