Hardly anyone questions the dictum that only through right education can a better order of society be built up. Universal education as one of the highly commendable aims of India’s Constitutions framers.
Article 45 of the Chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy clearly lays down that the State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14. But much deception and hypocrisy are practiced in the name of education.
One of independent India’s major failures has been in the field of education. High-sounding policies are laid down and impressive targets are set for achieving the goals of universal education. But in practice this matter has received one setback after another, despite the reports and recommendations of several committees and commissions comprising experts, officials, legislators and politicians. The progress in spreading literacy has been admittedly tardy; the number dropouts (those children and youth who play truant and stop studying for various reasons) is disconcerting; what is more, the products of our schools, colleges and universities are of poor quality.
In urban areas there are numerous teaching shops, substandard educational institutions which charge heavy fees from young pupils, have ill-paid teachers and exploit countless people. Many of them have no buildings but function in improvised shelters such as tents or small verandahs converted into school rooms with wooden partitions. They are a veritable fraud on the entire system of education.
Apart from the fact that the vast majority of our people (nearly sixty per cent_ are still illiterate and there is little hope of achieving 100 percent literacy even during the 21st century, there is growing evil of politicalization and commercialization of education. In fact, education has become a victim of both politicians ad businessmen especially in certain states. Politicians have turned education into a profitable business by exploiting the parent’s earnest desire to get their children education somehow, somewhere, regardless of the quality of instruction imparted and the unwarranted costs such as capitation fee, donations and other payments amounting to extortions. And yet these institutions have a large number of students. The rush is especially heavy for management courses, engineering and medical courses.
The reports from different States reveal a highly disconcerting state of affairs. No fewer than two hundred former and present legislators are now running a flushing ‘college industry’ to promote their political and financial interests – and in some cases- to protect their surplus land from the Ceiling Act! Even incumbent of topmost positions in the hierarchy of the Government are also involved in this racket. A Congress Legislator has over 80 colleges in his name and is reported to be associated with as many as one hundred and fifty colleges. He is alleged to be operating like a wily businessman and has been treating his colleges like a chain of commercial establishments. Exploitation of political power in the area of education has gone so far that the courts have passed several strictures on the Government for irregular and fraudulent practices during admissions of medical, engineering and management colleges. However, such irregularities and fraudulent practices have been defied from the Government side.
The politicians-cum-businessmen-cum-educationists contend that their aim is to bring the poor and the backward of rural India into the mainstream. They also claim to be following the Directive Principle of the Constitution providing for fee and compulsory education for all as the State’s goal.
These fake colleges charge anything between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 1,00,000 from ill-qualified and inexperienced persons to appoint them as lectures. Offspring’s and relatives of powerful politics and bureaucrats are given jobs and thus, obliged. Initially, the relatives agree to work on a negligible salary or on no salary at all, in the hope that their college will some day be recognized and in due course make them eligible to university grades. If the college has fifteen departments and if eight teachers appointed in each department, the enterprising politicians makes anything between Rs. 50 lakh and one crore. And this is a conservative estimate because there are cases where even 30 teachers are appointed in one department alone.
But failure and actions verging on deception are notable features even of the allegedly, well-established system of education. Although the teacher’s pay-scales have been revised, amenities of various categories have been provided and other measures have been taken to supplement the resources earmarked for education, hardly any steps have been taken to see that the teachers teach and the students study. Although the Central Government made several policy declaration, the initial enthusiasm has faded.