This is India today

Today's Times of India is replete with all the subjects that concern me and that I think need answers, subjects I have often blogged about giving by two penny bit in the form of simple suggestions with of course no takers as they stem for common sense. From the lack of proper living conditions for the underprivileged who do not have basic amenities  to the UNESCO report that states that 1.4 million children between the age of 6 and 11 are out opt school. from the Crime Records Bureau report that highlights a 70% rise in the rape and abduction of minors to the new poverty line that states that were you to spend more than 47 rs a day in a city you are NOT POOR! And there is more: a new born baby girl was found in a garbage bin close to our women centre; a 77 year old raped his 12 year old domestic servant. This is India today! I have blogged about each and every subject mentioned above more times than I can count but it looks like we are stuck in the same place. Eerie!

These is one more item tucked away in one of the inside pages that caught my attention and made my blood run cold. The article entitled South Delhi Municipal Corporation to rope in private firms for better education revisits the nightmare of privatisation of Education, something that will ring the death knell of education for the poorest of the poor. This corporation proposed to take the help of private firms to provide basic infrastructure in the schools i.e.: toilets, drinking water etc. Once the infrastructure is in place they will then address the quality issue. First, we will upgrade the infrastructure and then stress on quality of education says the Chairman of the Education Committee of the said Corporation. And that is not all. This scheme will be implemented in 50 of if 588 schools, schools which have fewer kids. Hallelujah!

The questions that scream to he heard are numerous. How come the Corporation has not been able to provide infrastructure in spite of taxes and education cesses levied with alacrity and impunity? What happens to all that moolah? If equitable education is a Constitutional Right of every child born in India then why can't the Government provide that equitable education to all children? What is so difficult about building toilets or providing clean drinking water? And most of all what is the pound of flesh the private firms will demand as there are no free lunches. And while you are deciding to take help for private companies and negotiating your terms, and while the said infrastructure is being set up children are growing by the minute and cannot wait for the time when you decide to address the quality issue.

Just think of how many kids will miss the bus. When you have 1.4 million children out of school and the Lord only knows how many drop outs; when your no fail policy ensures that kids can sail through school without learning and again courtesy your abysmal 33% pass percentage even get a certificate, you cannot address the critical education issue in the laid-back manner that this article suggests. I agree that long term planning is needed but you also need quick fix options for those in school today.

If I had a say I would take some immediate measures that do not require exhaustive planning or inane Parliamentarian debates but just the ordinances so often used to cut corners when it suits the powers that are. The first thing to do is enhance the pass percentage to 50%, then abolish the no fail policy so that a child learns step by step as it should be; then make school co educational as that would sort a lot of gender issues. After that introduce skill training at class VIII level for those not academically inclined. That too is not rocket science. But this is only if you care for children and therein lies the question.

Th reason why all this makes me so mad is that I have for the past 15 years seen the so called underprivileged children and been a witness to their passion for learning and their will to learn. We do not have infrastructure to boast of; we do not have uber trained teachers; we do not have large spaces but we have an ardent desire to help as many kids as we can and they never fail to take our breath away. They are extraordinary children who study in impossible conditions and still bring impressive results. Stop letting them down.