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RTE: A Sham?

 

DIRECTIONLESS EDUCATION

 

 

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In a recent Programme for International Student Assessment, Indian students ranked 74th out of 75 participating countries in writing and mathematics assessment tests for up to standard 8 students. The tiny country Kyrgyzstan saved India from scoring the last place. And most of these students were from premier private schools! 


An Indian
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Our Parliamentarians boast of Right To Education Act (RTE) wherein the constitution guarantees education as a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. But the number of students in government schools is dwindling every year as the quality of education has become pathetic - be it urban or rural schools. The teaching staff is incompetent, callous and totally demotivated. For most of the year, the primary duties of up to secondary school teachers have become non-academic like census, polio programmes, data collection for various governmental schemes etc. Academic excellence has become more or less, non-existent.


As per RTE, it is the responsibility of Government to provide total education to each and every Indian citizen to make the whole country literate. But the mushrooming of private schools tell an altogether a different story. And this is happening in urban as well as rural India. As much as 41 percent children are paying for their education which they are supposed to get free as their fundamental right.


                            

 

The reason is the visibly poor quality of Government schools both from infrastructure and academic point of view. People opt for private schools even if their economic condition doesn't allow them to do so and this is putting pressure on the society as a whole. But the main concern is the quality of education being provided. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2012) for rural India, only about 50 percent students of standard 3 could read the book of standard 1 correctly and a similar number could not even correctly recognize digits up to 100. 


The pathetic standard of learning was visible even in a significant number of private schools as well but at a lower percentage score. The overall standard, at best, could be described as mediocre even in private schools who charge extortionately but provide poor infrastructure except for the select few schools.  It appears that RTE has contributed negatively because of faulty implementation. It's failure is visible as more and more students and their parents are opting for private schools, as much as 50.6 percent in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, both these states claim themselves of being welfare states. Even after paying hefty tuition fee at school, a big sum of money is being spent by parents for private coaching where again the quality is dubious and the field is totally unorganized.  The RTE has become a worthless white elephant which would cost the exchequer 210,000 crore!  It appears to be envisaged by not so competent people and is a value destroyer.

 

Similar is the state of higher education. Here too, India lags far behind the developed nations in quality, skill acquisition, infrastructure, faculty and research. Even methods of imparting higher education are faulty and directionless. Despite having maximum number of higher education institutes in the world, none of these institutes could create a global brand for itself. Similar to primary education, 64 per cent higher education institutes are in private sector enrolling about 59 per cent of total students. Employability is questionable as a good percentage of the graduates coming from these colleges lack quality of skill required by the jobs. And this happens after spending a fortune in money and time to get a degree which is no than a piece of paper.

 

It is unfortunate to observe that India has sold its education, both primary and higher to people of dubious intentions of money making and to a system where a large number of teachers hate to be what they are, being there by compulsion rather than choice. Even in showcase schools and colleges, the quality of teachers have become questionable because of poor salaries, shoddy management practices, ineffective training and crowding of classes by excessive number of students a teacher can handle.

 

The private sector has become money spinner for few and there appears little hope for any improvement in quality and class while the government sector, baring a few schools and colleges, is not even worth talking about.






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JESPER NYMUNDSays:
Fascinating read. Viewed from abroad India\'s system of higher education seems like an unqualified success because of its ability to produce highly qualified computer programmers and technicians. Obviously the reality is more mixed than so and after reading this thorough analysis one can\'t help questioning whether India is getting proper value for its investment in education.
IRFAN ALAMSays:
A superb riposte Dr. Sa\'ab!, very pertinent, absolutely spot on, but it reflects very poorly on the quality of our lives, since education is but one mirror, that comes handy when you have to peek in it. Wish our lives weren\'t so mundane, as is our education system, it could be the reason that we opt for mediocrity, when we should be choosing meritocracy.
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