The Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report of the UNESCO for the year 2017/18 is aptly titled, ‘Accountability in Education’. It highlights the state of the Indian education system. It projects the figures of out-of-school children at 11 million and 47 million at elementary and secondary school stages. These are indeed disturbing figures.
By now, India could have reached a stage in which practically no child remained out of school, or dropped out before 14 years. The impediments in implementing welfare measures are well-known and the education sector is no exception.
Amongst all this, the most significant achievement in education sector is the total acceptance of the necessity of education. Earlier, serious resistance was faced if efforts were made to persuade communities and sections of people to send their wards to school for ‘education’. It took considerable time, particularly in bringing the girl child, to the school.
Now after over 60 years, the demand from parents is for “inclusive, equitable and good-quality education”.
In India, the privatisation of education is being encouraged by the resourceful, and the state governments and bureaucracy as it hides their failure in the loss of credibility of the public school system.
The civil society has almost resigned to the situation, no one listens to their voice, as all those who can make a change put their wards in private schools and ‘are not worried’. The role of media has been listed by the GEM Report as ‘a key in raising critical issues’, but the least can be said about the Indian media that it has little interest in this sector.
It often finds faults with teachers, and that results in avoidable demoralisation. Teachers cannot be expected to perform at their best when there is acute shortage of faculty. State governments openly show their reluctance to appoint regular teachers, and keep on engaging teachers in non-teaching jobs, in spite of even the highest court’s rulings to the contrary.
Teachers’ unions have not grown up professionally and rarely have paid any attention to professional issues such as relevance and renewal of school, commercialisation and other unacceptable practices being followed in majority of teacher preparation institutions, or the changes needed in approach and pedagogy after the advent of the ICT, and the market forces associated with it.
Ample evidence exists on enrolment figures faked to swindle scholarships and mid-day-meal grants. None can forget swindling of funds of the health mission for rural children in Uttar Pradesh and that of specific allocations to meet the nutritional needs of the children of Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Support systems now available with the advent of information and communication technology could indeed be used to ensure proper and sincere implementation of education schemes, particularly at the elementary stage. The foundation that is laid there must be very strong. International monitoring reports generally refrain from making serious observations on the inadequacies of the manpower within the system.
It is the responsibility of the country concerned to delineate a system of accountability at each stage. Teachers alone are not to be blamed. Some recent cases of tragic neglect have revealed serious inadequacies in ensuring safety and security of children in schools.
Train people, give them their due but never hesitate to delineate responsibility and fix responsibility. The systems must remain responsive, active, alert, and conscious of their performance. Only professionally equipped and morally strong persons can prepare generations
J S Rajput
Former director of the NCERT