There was a sanguinity that the new government with its strong policies will bring back the economy on track, echoes of its developmental agenda will be seen in other sectors too. Though the economy has shown some positive results but nothing much has changed when it comes to education system.
Our government schools still lacks basic amenities like drinking water, functional toilets, availability of teachers etc. Two decades ago, more than 80% students use to study in government schools but now the fraction has reduced to less than 50%. Even the underprivileged aspires their child to be educated in private school.
Inaccessibility to functional toilets in government schools has been one of the most important reasons for female child dropout. There is a straight relation between sanitation and health. Last year, PM Narendra Modi while delivering his Independence Day speech vowed to put up toilets in all government schools before 15 august 2015. Though the government has achieved the goal, but the question follows is, what about their maintenance? We all are well aware what happens in absence of an apt maintenance mechanism. In actual, the toilets were to be constructed by private corporations under CSR, but they lacked interest and later government had to intervene and the work was done in haste.
You tube is full of videos which showing deteriorated state of bulk of government schools especially in U.P. and Bihar. Condition of teachers can be gauged by the fact that they were unable to spell words like ‘should’, ‘vacant’ etc. In one of the schools in Bihar, teachers were spotted teaching that there are ‘360’ days in a year, and furthermore, ‘Patna’ is the capital of India.
When you observe diligently the teachers recruitment system, you’ll realize that teachers are not the only one to blame upon. Findings of Agastya International Foundations have revealed that teaching is considered as the last option by people. They use it as a side job till they establish themselves. There is a need for 70-80 lakh teachers for primary schools across India, but only 30-40% seats have been filled. Near about 12 lakh teachers are needed to maintain the healthy teacher-pupil ratio of 1:20 as mentioned under Right to Education Act, 2009. To overcome the situation, state governments have started recruiting teachers on contract basis and are given a meagre salary of Rs 3000 per month. This move has seriously compromised the quality of our education system.
Allahabad High Court order
Recently Allahabad high court has ordered that all those drawing salaries from UP government have to send their children to government schools. This is a very encouraging judgment. This was given in the wake that high government officials send their children to private schools and the poor ones are left with no such option. The court has directed the chief secretory to submit a report in six months. The condition of government schools will transform drastically if this order comes into force. The high officials will then keep an eye on the functioning of these schools. Though, the decision is not binding and may be challenged in Supreme Court. It is an irony that those who make laws are not bound to follow them. ‘Cooks all round the world have to first taste the food’.
The government should understand that folks have a lot of expectation from it. Education has the capacity to transform the future of a country. Government should understand that erecting bare infrastructure does not serve the purpose until functional maintenance is ensured like clean drinking water accessibility and proper waste disposal. States should be additionally financially assisted by the Centre, as recommended by M. M. Punchchi Commission so that they can hire permanent teachers through proper recruitment process.
Another step can be the creation of ‘school governing councils’, members of whom should be elected by parents, teachers and local citizens. Through these bodies, parents have a direct say in the functioning of schools.