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Monday, August 21, 2006

Education For All: Still A mirage

Is Education for all Still a Mirage


Even after 59 years of independence we are miles away from achieving our dream of education for all. The menace of illiteracy and ignorance is still raging its ugly head and is constantly reminding us that a lot of work is still due before we can overcome these demons. To support this argument I want to put forward some facts and realities that I gathered and experienced myself. I am an executive of a Ngo named The Learning Foundation India (TLFI-www.tlfi.org) which conducts socio-educational programs in the rural areas of Rajasthan with the help of University age students selected from all over the world during their vacation periods. I myself was a volunteer during its Thar Endeavour-05 program conducted in the villages of Thar and stayed in a village named Ajasar-30 Kms from Ramdeora for about 20 days and taught English, computers and general awareness modules to the kids there. That trip helped me greatly to observe and analyze extensively the causes of this problem. The following points summarize that whole saga.

There was a middle school well built with 256 students registered (though registered only as its mandatory for the teachers to get every kid registered till V class) but not on a single day the strength crossed the 60 mark. So the village is covered in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan with Mid-Day meal facility also and in records achieves education for all but is it really? Obviously not that is what I can say from my experiences. So if this is a picture of a village which on papers has achieved primary education for all so what to talk about the millions of villages which are still waiting for even the primary schools. Even disturbing was the level of education and understanding of the kids studying in higher classes and were the most sincere of the lot. They were easily promoted till 8
th and with the disappointing level of 8th board they easily get into 9th and subsequently 10th class with their level of understanding still far below the average primary student. When they face the stiffness of public examination there dreams gets broken ruthlessly. The examination exposes the misery and mismanagement they have been facing all through the previous years and finally end in giving up of education and the nation is denied of a educated child. This is the story of thousands of rural kids.

Reasons- First of all the schools lack both the quantity and quality of teachers. Teachers who enters with the mission in mind gets frustrated by the conditions and the system and finally most of them ending up in a trademark Indian Master. To add to their woes they are assigned with numerous administrative works and duties leaving them short of time and attention for their real task of preparing quality citizens for the country. The teachers complain the system and lack of awareness among villagers and their eyes looks thirsty for the recognition and respect that a teacher must get from the community which is barely seen now a days .On the contrary the villagers thinks its waste of time and money to send kids to schools and have no trust or confidence in the teachers and the education system. The only reason for sending kids especially girls is to get the money snet by government as scholarship.

The time has come now when our policy makers should realize that the target of education for all can only be achieved by launching a comprehensive awareness program by taking help of educated citizens, NGO's because the programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and MID-Day Meal can only supplement that they can't themselves ensure the timely fulfillment of our goals.


Teachers hold the key position in realizing this dream of ours and there is a great need for special training of the teachers working in rural areas to make them proficient enough to infuse motivation and confidence among the kids despite of the hostile conditions existing there and help them not to loose their focus. They should be relieved from the numerous administrative works also so that they can give their whole hearted efforts in their mission. Even increasing their perks and salaries can be done so that some better persons can take up this dignified profession as without able teachers all our efforts will go in vain.
We all must understand the utmost importance of education as it is the only mean by which we can overcome our traditional ills of dowry, poverty, ignorance, female infanticide, casteism, racism, naxalism and even the terrorism. These all problems are integrated and education is the only tool in our hand for solving them otherwise no program aiming for their eradication can succeed. If more money is required that should be provided and besides that we can also initiate private sectors participation for this . Even the grants for higher education can be curtailed like that of IIT's & IIM's as the students there have a guarantee of nice jobs after the course program so they can be charged higher as they have easily available educational loans that can be paid back after the education without causing much trouble to them.


Apart from this we the educated youth of our nation should also share the responsibility and as directed by Honorable President of India each one should tale some time out to educate at least one of a kid who is less fortunate than us . If we can generate this wave of sharing the responsibility than our task will become much easier .

In the end I will like to Quote these lines which I hope will guide us towards the goal

Kuch bhi nahin hota asambhav
Jab sankalp liye jaate hain
Aur un sankalpon ko jab
Saahas ke sudrad charan diye jaatein hain
Badhaaon ki kya taakat phir
Rukh Toofan badal sakta hai
Rukh Toofan badal sakta hai!!



JAI HIND!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Independence

60 YEARS OF OUR INDEPENDENCE: RETROSPECTION



Today we are at the eve of the 60th Independence Day of our Republic Of India. So it’s a nice moment to look back at what we have achieved in the last 60 years? How far we have moved towards the realization of the dreams of our great freedom fighters? What progress we have made? Also to identify the bright and dark spots in this journey. Its time for us do the retrospection on what we have done till yet? And what we should do now to build the India of our Dreams.

Let us first start from our achievements or the tasks fulfilled by us in these six decades. We have made great progress in many spheres – Strong military, advancements in technology and science, landmark achievements in space science, development of some world class cities which have established an identity on the world map, better agricultural productivity, advancements in industrial sector and the biggest advancement we have made is in the Service sector with we emerging as the world leader in this sector. Another notable accomplishment is the successful survival of democracy which is really noteworthy in the sense that despite being such a large and diverse nation we have not only kept the spirit of democracy alive but made it even stronger and established a precedent for the whole world. In the last 60 years democracy failed in dozens of countries. On every occasion we held successful polls and complete peaceful transfer of power.

In these years India has given to this world some of the great scientists, doctors, engineers, managers, leaders,sportspersons, philosophers and thinkers. Dr. Bhabha, Kalpana Chawla, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Amartya Sen, Dr. Kalam , Sachin are few of those bright sparkling stars of this galaxy . India has established itself as a truly sovereign and independent country in these years on the world stage at a time when the sovereignty of nation like U.K. is under question. Even we have emerged as a global leader on the world stage whether it was championing the cause of non-alignment or leading the third world countries at WTO . India has actively participated in resolving International conflicts and Indian troops have regularly been serving as the U.N. peace keeping forces in different parts of the world.


We have made significant advances in energy and power sector and we are striving hard to achieve self-sufficiency in this regard. We have made considerable growth in transportation and communication especially in the last decade. The use of cellular phones has provided a great thrust in ensuring that every village and household must have a mean of communication. The institutes like IIT’s , IIM’s AIIMs have earned great name and fame on the global level.


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But it is not though everything has been done right in these years, there are not few but many grey patches also in our journey of six decades of independence. Even after 60 years thousands of villages are still waiting for electricity and the lakhs of those who have are waiting for the day when it would be available uninterrupted to them with no major cuts .What to talk of villages when our national capital is facing a deficit of upto 2000 KW . A large proportion of our population doesn’t have access to pure drinking water and people still walking miles everyday to procure water. About Quarter of our population still lies below poverty line. And we have corruption which is now what is termed as “Shistachar”.

This is not the end of the misfortune to add to this we have thousands of villages waiting for the schools, thousands of schools waiting for teachers, millions of people waiting for doctors and hospitals. The teacher/student and patient / doctor ratio is still far behind the global standards. We still find the same demons of illiteracy, dowry, female infanticide, poverty, ignorance posing serious threats in our efforts of emerging as a developed society and nation. We are not only short of infrastructure but also the shortage of initiatives and efforts as still in many villages’ people feel schools as waste of time and money. There is an urgent need for generating awareness about the advantages of education and technology in the rural areas and also about the ills of ignorance, dowry etc. During last winter vacations I was in a village in jaisalmer district for a socio-educational program of a ngo named TLFI . During our program I got the opportunity to see and feel the ground realities myself and I was surprised by the things I came across. People had no faith in school for them tilling of farms is more necessary for their kids. The killing of a girl child as soon as she is born was a custom. A man very proudly told me he had just killed his 6th girl child and also explained me how he put the child in the milk tank to let her die and further told me that there’s one more common practice of killing by putting sand on the chest of child that kills child due to no respiration. I felt like killing the butcher but I was helpless and it took me a long time to get back to my senses after hearing this cruel custom.

It is quite evident that the gap between cities and villages is widening day by day and if we really want to emerge as a developed society it has to be bridged sooner than later. Also we need to deal strongly with the problems of terrorism and naxalism as more than half of our states are facing this menace. For effective remedy the regional aspirations should be kept in mind and we should strive for the uniform development of all parts which is a tough task but it has to be done to ensure our independence.

On this 6oth anniversary we all must take a pledge that we will put all our sicere efforts to help our country attain the status of “Jagatguru” and will once again turn it into “Sone Ki Chiddiya” . So stop cursing the system and government instead make the government and system work effectively and efficiently by remaining vigilant about our rights and participating and monitoring in the noble task of nation building.
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Jai Hind !