Shiksha Samvad- Awakening to a new world of learning.
As we Indians race towards setting up a new education policy there were many terms that had to be studied in depth,understood and worked upon. Some of them were Neo-Liberal policies, Human Resource Development, Employability, Communalisation of education etc. Now when we say ‘studied’, it means under expert guidance, with those people who have an encyclopaedic knowledge and decades of experience in that field, and hence we at SIO Mumbai conducted the ‘Shiksha Samvad’ here at our Mumbai headquarters in Kurla with renowned speakers and social leaders Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni, Mr. Arvind Vaidhya, Br. Thouseef, Br. Anwar Shaikh and Br. Mohammed Salman.
The program started with Tilawat-e-Quran, following which the guests were felicitated and then Br. Thouseef took hold of the dias going forward with the inaugural words, an in depth explaination followed highlighting the reasons for organizing such an event. Fifth out of the twenty odd events to be held across the nation it brought a huge amount of facts forward, discussing the pathetic conditions of the government run public schools inspite of the 15 long yrs of implementation of the policies like RTE, SSA, RMSA Etc. Apart from this he also stressed the need for conducting primary education in the mother tounge after providing miserable details of the ‘three language formula’ adopted since the independence.
Focussing on the new draft of policies to be taken up by the government in the feild of education under the HRD ministry the discussion saw 2 presentations by Mr. Kulkarni and Mr. Vaidhya each. It is such a shame that the HRD ministry which invites the Indian citizens for taking active part in shaping the educational policies on its website has 33 teams looking into the matter but non of them look into the core issues and worse, the policies to be drafted will be done by bureaucrats and not by seasoned and senior educationists.
Mr. Vaidhya the Mumbai President of The All India RTE forum put light on the idea of a social state wherein the weaknesses of an individual and the effect of those weaknesses on the society would be taken care by the govt. Hence he voiced the need for a subsidy based policy for the deprived caste, linguistic and religious minorities. He further stated that the govt. sponsored privatization of education will lead to private fundamentalism or ‘Social Darwinism’ where the rich will rule the nation. The next point he put forward was when the govt says ‘fundamental’ right to education it should be the same across the entire country, it should not have a budget or limited funds, else it will be like the police asking money for solving a case, one should be allowed to go to the court of law and not the childs right commission and last the govt. should protect the citizens from foreign nationals. He also shared his knowledge on how the govt. manipulated the Unnikrishna report of 1993 to suit its own interests. Lastly he advocated strongly common education in common schools under one roof for both the rich and the poor by improving the condition of govt. educational institutes.
Mr. Kulkarni, President ORF Mumbai and ex-aide of PM Vajpayee started with congratulating SIO on organizing such an important discussion in 20 different cities to create new values that are the fundamentals of education. He then conveyed his message for Indians on this 69th Independence Day- To pledge towards bridging all gaps between all communities. On the day India got divided we should show commitment towards refining ourselves and show high levels of humanity through achieving great amonts of education. Coming to the samwad-the dialog he asked people to strive towards letting the truth come out. He then emphasized the difference between privatization and commercialization. Explaining the huge gap between Democracy and Communism he guided the attendees through the fine line and asked to let the private schools prevail, atleast the ones built by community based groups for social upliftment. Explaining the importance of value education he said it would lead to man making which in turn would lead to nation building. Another point he stated was secular and religious education sgould not be seperated. Humanism and patriotism should also be promoted through education was another of his.recommendation.
After the presentation the house was thrown open for the attendees and other guests as well as the media to question the experts and chalk out possible paths to be followed and suggestions that could be gicen to the govt.
Things that came out of the discussion were the constantly decreasing subsidy by the govt. towards education since the govt. Signed the WTO paper declaring education salablein the Jomptin conference in Thailand. This was the reason for the marked shift towarsa the corporate sectors entry into the feild.
Other questions raised were How free is free education? How to diffrentiate between privatization and commercializaton? How to curb the menace of coaching classes and tuitions? Most of these questions went unanswered. Still many that were answered led to conclusions like “Schemes made for the poor become poor schemes”. And there is very little that can be expected from the govt. which is not led by educationist, and it should be solely dependent on neighborhood councils and ground level democracy. Common schools for the rich and poor would eliminate the divide in quality of institutions. The HRD was only preparing the youth as raw material for industries. We should strive towards establishing good institutes not for buisness greeds but at the same time they should run on viable basis. The reservation policy for teaching jobs was also contested as it was blamed for poor quality teachers.
Finally Br. Salman gave the vote of thanx urging all cadre of all the units to discuss and debate the entire topic with the masses and at micro level in their localities. With a vision a for establishing India on the global map as a leader in education he concluded with the 4-E formula asking for ‘Expansion’ fo the prevalent infrastructure and schemes also demanding adult education for aged people. ‘Excellence’ was the next point. Following it was ‘Equality’ in education for the richand poor. Then came ‘Employablity’ which indeed is not the sole purpose for providing education but even it serves as the catylyst for improvements. He further thanked all the guests and the attendees and asked for future assistance.