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 ( 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!!


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