Take the bull by the horns

Last Updated 24 March 2019, 18:58 IST

Unarguably, education is the chief defence of a nation. History bears testimony that the erudite intellectuals have always been the catalysts of change. Great Athens scholars like Plato and Aristotle, whom we revere as the paragons of profound wisdom, had contributed significantly in the process of nation building. These men of letters whose very names evoke enormous admiration in our collective consciousness, were not merely confined to their own ivory towers; they were instead the real nation builders and as refined educators they rendered their yeoman’s services to the society.

Such legendary teachers had no fascination for accumulating material wealth neither did they crave for bubble reputation. Unlike most of the modern teachers, they had an altogether different definition of success in life. Aristotle was of the view that the success of a real teacher lay in stimulating the minds of his students.

But unfortunately today, education remains no more a sacred mission. With its compete commercialisation, it has become a commodity for sale. Also gone are the days when India would hold her head high in dignity for having devout teachers like Chanakya, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Premchand, S Radhakrishnan, Savitribai Phule, APJ Abdul Kalam and so on. They propagated the gurukul tradition and dedicated their lives to disseminate knowledge without any pecuniary considerations.

The value-based education system these personifications of knowledge once clung to, is on the brink of complete collapse now. Irish writer W B Yeats very aptly laments this changing social order in his poems with the analogy of a falcon. He ruefully remarks that things are falling apart.

The falconer cannot hold the falcon. Mere anarchy is let loose upon particularly in the prevalent system of education in India. A vast majority of the modern so called educators are the part of the education industry (mafia) which is indeed thriving day in and day out on the hard earned money of the commoners.

Though Right to Education has been duly enshrined in our Constitution, its proper implementation is yet a distant dream. In the last few decades, education has turned lopsided.

The affluent section of the society that governs the means and masters the resources has the luxury to afford good quality education to their kids in the private institutions. On the flip side, people hailing from the financially middle and lower classes are bound to send their children to government-run institutes. But most of these government funded educational institutes are in a shambles. They have no adequate infrastructure. Even basic facilities like clean toilets are not available in their useable conditions.

It has been one of the major causes of drop-out rates in the government schools especially in the case of girl students. The schemes like offering midday meals to the children have also come a cropper owing to the apathy of the government.

When it comes to modern technology, most of these schools are ill-equipped. The lack of competent teachers especially in the rural area government schools and colleges has further aggravated the issue. The statistics about the annual performance of the pupils studying in government institutes lay bare the underneath reality and expose underbelly of the current decaying education system.

Undeniably, by taking admission to the private schools, colleges and universities, one can make one’s mark under the tutelage of very highly professional teachers who are put to assiduous work in order to produce the marvellous results with the very overt objective of earning better incentives and profits.

They are not at all motivated by any philanthropic concept of missionary teachings. Adhering to the disdainful principle of maximum profits, they often arm-twist their students to forceful tuitions and extra coaching classes. Do such ilk of unscrupulous educators deserve to become our ideal teachers?

The absence of the vision and the policy paralysis pertaining to both the private and the government educational sectors and the lack of a proper check on the educational institutes are some of the factors to be held responsible for the entire mayhem and mess in this arena.

All pastures are not fully green even when it comes to private educational institutes. Ours is a country where the laws about wages and remunerations have been flagrantly violated. Most teachers working in many private institutes are paid pittance and the work they are subjected to do is no way commensurate with their salaries. The lion’s share of the profits is gobbled by the owners of such private institutes.

Powerful players

They monopolise the whole education sector as powerful players, hard-nosed shrewd money-minded businessmen. Many of them prefer to recruit the less competent or the least competent teachers as such teachers easily settle on the paltry sum but do the further damage due to the lack of requisite skill for teaching. Having taken stock of the entire present situation, we grow apprehensive about the huge disparity that has set in the present day educational sphere.

Broadly speaking, in our country, we have a “shining India and a non-shining India”. The offspring of the shining India is fortunate enough to study in the characteristic B schools where quality education is sold to the aspirants on highly exorbitant prices. There is a mushroom growth of these institutes and their owners have been lining their pockets with impunity.

Au contraire, the Right to Education that guarantees optimal quality education to all the citizens without any discrimination on the grounds of caste, creed and their financial status does not hold any water in such a dismal scenario. Therefore, it is the dire need of the hour that the government takes the bull by the horn and redesign the entire frayed fabric of our education system. This apathy of elected leaders is taking a big toll on the holistic health of our nation.

(The writer is Head, Department English Language and Linguistics, Dev Samaj PG College for Women, Ferozepur, Punjab)

(Published 24 March 2019, 18:55 IST)

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