Universalisation Of Elementary Education

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Published on October 9, 2008

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Slide 1: 1 Sanjiv Kaura National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education (NAFRE) UNIVERSALIZATION of ELEMENTARY EDUCATION [UEE]: Grassroots perspectives and the Indian polity Slide 2: 2 AMARTYA SEN’S PHILOSOPHICAL ANECDOTE “ My student once told me as to why I haven’t changed the content of my thoughts since 1950s. “ My reply was – Because surrounding environment hasn’t changed; I will probably die saying the same things.” Slide 3: 3 INDIAN PM AGREES ! “ Primary education needs a far stronger political will. It is sad that this important area of nation building does not attract the best and the brightest administrators.” - Atal B Vajpayee, 22nd Oct., 1998, RIDERS APPLIED TO THIS PRESENTATION : 4 RIDERS APPLIED TO THIS PRESENTATION All statistics are government sourced All solutions also sourced from government documents or government appointed Commissions TWO FACES OF INDIA : 5 TWO FACES OF INDIA 1/8th = The INDIA known for IT, doctors , engineers and Amartya Sen 7/8th = Ground reality INDIA called ‘Bharat’ Ground reality that includes - : 6 Ground reality that includes - 400 million = below poverty line of 20c /day 400 million (+/-) = No. of illiterates 80 million (+/-) = No. of children out of school 150 million = No. of children in school Irrelevance of “literacy %” currently at 67% - Slide 7: 7 SOME ROUGH EQUIVALENTS JOURNEY OF RIGHT TO EDUCATION BILL : 8 JOURNEY OF RIGHT TO EDUCATION BILL 1947 : Constitution drafters overrule demand 1993 : Supreme Court declares education a fundamental right 1997 : Govt. tables a federal Bill. Govt. falls, Bill withers away. 2001 : Govt. re-tables Bill, unanimously passed by lower house. 2002 : Unanimously passed by upper house 2003 : Presidential assent expected WILL THE BILL ACHIEVE UEE? : 9 WILL THE BILL ACHIEVE UEE? NO, because of : (A) Little financial backing ($) (B) No reference to equitable quality education (C) Excludes age group 0-6 years Slide 10: 10 $$$$$ (A) HOW LITTLE IS ‘LITTLE’ Slide 11: 11 CAN INDIA AFFORD UEE ? Non merit subsidies are 10 % of GDP per annum Never a bombs vs books question Umesh Banakar: Indira Gandhi (B) INEQUITY, POOR QLTY. BRED BY (A) : 12 (B) INEQUITY, POOR QLTY. BRED BY (A) Things for which you need money - India needs 400,000 schools and 4m teachers more 33% of schools are single teacher schools 50% of schools are in fact merely ‘schools’ Most imp., inferior parallel options are being institutionalized by ALL political parties 40% parents can’t afford to send ward to a ‘free’ government school (costs $ 6 a year) Talk of linking education to larger socio-cultural issues seems utopia Slide 13: 13 (C) AGE GROUP 0-6 DENIED FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT Yet, Bill grants fundamental right to 6-14 years only OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY THE BILL : 14 OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY THE BILL Irrevocable legal commitment of the government established Great opportunity for children to demand education with basic quality and dignity Could catalyze India to face its grossly inequitous underbelly in courts a la’ Brown case in US Supreme Court SOLUTIONS : 15 SOLUTIONS At the state level Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are experiments that can be replicated ( a strong assertive social will was present in both) Common School System enshrined and passed by Parliament in every National Policy on Education since Independence viz. 1968,1986,1992 Funding by the State, management/control by the community OTHER POLICY DEVELOPMENTS : 16 OTHER POLICY DEVELOPMENTS Curriculum No one talks of ‘integrating the world of work with world of knowledge’ - 1938 Zakir Hussain in Mahatma Gandhi’s Nai Taleem Privatization Touted as a panacea for all evils, not realizing that basic education in even the most privatized economies of the world is govt. respomsibility. THE ROAD AHEAD : 17 THE ROAD AHEAD WHAT INFLUENCES POLITY? : 18 WHAT INFLUENCES POLITY? Pre - 28th Nov, 2001 1998 : A Parliamentary Standing Committee (represented by all political parties) recommended against positive changes suggested by development sector 1998 to 28th Nov, 2001: Every political party expressed helplessness in supporting NAFRE 28th Nov, 2001 : 50,000 grassroots people rallied together in nation’s capital at their own expense from across India for edu. – a first in independent India Result : All opposition parties reversed their stand on the Bill, negating their very own Parliamentary Committee, in favor of NAFRE’s positive changes. 28th Nov, 2001Debate inside Parliament 50,000 people outside Parliament : 19 28th Nov, 2001Debate inside Parliament 50,000 people outside Parliament 6.00 PM : Opposition proposes an alternative Bill against govt. (captures NAFRE’s points) 1/3rd MPs vote in its favor. 7.00 PM : Government puts its own Bill to vote Unanimously passed by all incl. the 106 MPs + proposer of the alternative Bill! (who was a Left party ideologue) Message : A long struggle lies ahead Slide 20: 20 This hour glass is 1/3rd full, NOT 2/3rd empty The End

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