Need Enlightenment, Not Entitlement, Approach

Published: 13th April 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2014 10:29 AM   |  A+A-

10app.jpgAll powerful ideas need a time that has to come and once it comes, nothing can stop the ideas becoming actions. The dawn of May 16 will decide who India’s ‘don’ will be and whoever it is, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) under a new boss needs to charter the course of Indian education for the next five years to begin with. The new boss needs newer ideas and must first shed the burden of the Dramatic-Theatric-Populist (DTP) schemes of the MHRD in the last 10 years. The four quadrant approach in all the DTP schemes had the four important elements—accessibility, affordability, inclusivity and quality. It also followed the established laws of sciences that explain output under constant conditions of temperature, time or pressure. The massive enrolment and expansion in education at all levels have ensured that rapid and mindless growth (astronomical increase in number of engineering and MBA institutions) resulted in quality output being constant at worst and fading signs of marginal improvement at best. Result: Polarised massification adds only marginal utility value.

The NDA or UPA or a new political cocktail that takes the political Numero Uno position cannot afford to treat the next five years as an extension of the previous 10 insofar education is concerned. If it does, 15 years is a generation loss that is irrepairable and irreversible. The Cabinet Secretary’s note dated March 13, 2014 to all the Union secretaries assumes significant importance at this stage. The note has asked for all department secretaries to submit a status-quo report and suggestions to facilitate the incoming government’s transition. The Cabinet Secretary has generously provided three pages with 1.15 line spacing and Arial font size 12. I only wish I had that luxury for this article. Nevertheless, I seize this opportunity to only hope that the MHRD secretary has included these suggestions in his note that should have been submitted by March 25, 2014.

● Innovative Centre-state model to improve standards, facilities, teacher quality, etc. in government schools through a cooperatively competitive yet participative approach

● A strong public-private partnership in primary and secondary education with adequate monitoring mechanisms

● Ground-breaking initiatives to incentivise RTE in private non-minority institutions, as the current model of the ‘no child left behind’ programme is infested with inefficiencies

● Freeing higher education from regimental regulations that currently through outsourced biased committees strangulate progressive institutions and oxygenate erring ones

● Weeding out capitation fee menace through a compulsory National Test Facility (NTF) for admissions to all deemed universities and incentives for eligible private institutions joining the NTF

● Allowing foreign universities only in PG and PhD education with their own faculty and resources and curbing the fly by night operators’ free run in India

● Integrating non-formal skill education with mainstream formal education and revising Gross Enrolment Ratio parameters to factor such non-formal and other formal skill education initiatives

● Encourage research in higher education institutions through a collaborative approach than isolated ‘ivory towerism’ which ensures survival of the fattest, not the fittest

● Create an ecosystem that produces contributors to education system than selfish consumers by establishing the Indian Education Service on the lines of IAS, IPS, IFS, etc.

● Generous tax-waivers for key educational stakeholders —teachers and deserving institutions

NaMo’s ‘Shreshtha Bharat’ or RaGa’s ‘Change the System’, both need enlightened educational policies radically different from the current entitlement-based policies.

The writer is Dean, Planning & Development, SASTRA University


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