Shaping Education

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The national policy on education, since the day of independence, has gone through various acts of commission and omission.

Indeed for anything to be called a ‘policy’ it has to be formally so stated by an agency which is charged with the responsibility of framing the same. No policy can be by default.

This is not the best place to get into a chronological narrative of the approach of the Indian parliament or indeed the Indian government to ‘education policy’.

However education is something on which a large number of people have some opinion. Therefore it is not surprising, that so many committees and commissions have been appointed on the subject. Further, like in many domains, in the field of education, also, our post-independence institutions have had a huge shadow of British institutions. To begin with we created a University Grants Commission perhaps for no better reason than that Britain had such a Commission.

Imitation is the best flattery. However it is dangerous when it happens in the domain of knowledge management.

The result of this kind of institutional frame work is not only worrisome but also pernicious. The distribution of funds on education got hugely eschewed.

It will be useful to remind ourselves that education is a concurrent subject. However the business of granting recognition for so called ‘maintenance of standards’ made the UGC almost the sole arbiter of the fate of higher education.

When this was put on a base of higher secondary and secondary education on which the center had much less say, the fit did not quite workout. The response was not clear, though, through some quirk a Central Board of Secondary Education, finally emerged.
The result is there for all to see. Examination after examination, sometimes mutual exclusive, if not competitive dominates the scene. This is besides the competitive entrance tests from everything from medicine to engineering. The parents are confused, the children bewildered and the employers at a loss to make sense of all this.

The result is that several employers started installing here own competitive examinations. The series appears endless.
The truth of the matter is that the escape route came – as it always does- for the resourceful and those who were networked. Almost every 2 of 3 so-called influential families have their wards studying outside India. Indeed it had lent them huge status all round from marriage to employment.

The dream of every Indian mother continues to be to get the son-in-law or a daughter-in-law who is either placed abroad or is at least an NRI. From the government to multinational companies operating in India a clear pattern of recruitment is discernible.
The effective career path is to float in at a lateral level with foreign credentials.

Well might one ask to whom does this country belong? Is it just a pasture for those from outside India?

 However to continue with the narrative on education it is not only a problem of funding, standards, intake, focused on output and more, but one of a severe identity crisis. This is a terrible story to narrate as few ever seem to attempt a way through it with the political and the social will it requires.
Hopeful the national policy of education should be a canvas to clear much of this confusion. The truth of the matter is every attempt to do a national policy on education has an overlay of a confusion which is best stated as framed in the statement “Eminence is not omniscience”.

Some body may be very distinguished in his field, it does not necessarily make him an expert in education, also. in fact an analysis of the composition of the search committees of key functionaries of educational bodies such as AICTE and others would show that those who chaired these committees or were members had little notion of the subject matters of the education domain, or for that matter, even of  the issues. Casual familiarity with issues of education cannot be a substitute for a deep scholastic insight into the subject matter.That can only happen after decades of concentrated development of expertise.
The day is still awaited.

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