An engineer, debater, writer, sports-person and much more. Read along one of our personal favorites in this competition as this writer takes a jibe at the educational system in India and it’s policy making practices.
SPECIAL MENTION ENTRY IN OIWC
Disclaimer: All these are personal thoughts and are not meant to offend anyone.
Education is the primary need for the development and overall healthy functioning of any country. In the Indian context particularly education is of utmost importance because of the kind of history that we have had. Years and years of misguided beliefs and ignorance have led to us believing anything and everything that is imposed on us without really giving it a proper thought. With the kind of importance attached, education, its ways and dimensions have been debated time and again. These debates have their own importance because they compel people to analyze and question their own beliefs. They also provide with several new perspectives on any topic and hence they constantly work with the involvement of the people to bring out the best in any particular argument.
One of the most debated aspects of education is the question about who should be given the authority to make decisions regarding education and the two parties that compete for this authority are the government and the educators of the nation- two very important and also the most deserving of all the institutions that exist in our country. In this article I would primarily focus on three major dimensions of the debate, firstly the status quo that is I would be talking about what is the situation in our country as of now. Secondly I would be talking about the kind of role that both these stakeholders- government and educators play in our country’s education system and thirdly I would discuss who, according to me, is the right authority for a field as wide and as crucial as education.
Beginning from where we stand right now, I would first like to discuss in simple terms about the kind of setup that we see around us for making any particular education decision. The simple division that we need to keep in mind here is that of the school level education and higher education. In case of school level education, there are several major institutes that take majority of the decisions. Apart from government, these institutes consist of several private firms, individuals, religious institution such as missionaries etc. As far as school level education is considered, the balance of power between the government and the educators is more or less equal. Government has decided fixed curriculum for government funded schools but the private schools always have an option regarding the kind of decisions they want to make, the curriculum and other rules and regulations.
In case of school level education we see a clear demarcation between the state run schools and the private schools. The private schools enjoy greater respect and popularity among the masses. The government schools, in spite of being very affordable aren’t thought to be very good, at least among the middle class and the upper middle class population because they doubt the quality of education. If we analyze the primary reason for this then we would find that there is an inherent flaw in the way the government schools are running, there is no check on the power of the school administration. Without going further in the flaws, we can still, very easily understand that both educators and the government has failed in doing their duty properly. On one hand, the educators who enjoy more perks and more freedom than the private school educators ignore their responsibility and on the other hand the government turns a blind eye to the flaws that exist.
In the case of higher education, the situation is quite the opposite. Admission to the government funded institutes are coveted by millions in the country. The acceptance rates to the national and central universities is hence very less. The government invests in these institutes and the quality of education is the best that is offered in our country. Technical and research institutes have been developed with the purpose of adding quality and skilled manpower to the nation’s asset. These institutes thus witness a very active participation by both the government and educators alike and hence are appreciated all over the world.
The roles that are played by both these stakeholders are very important, both have their own value, none of which can be undermined, the proportion of which, though, can certainly be decided. The role of the educators is very plain and obvious, they are the ones who have the experience of this field. They are the much-needed base of the whole system and it is because of them that any concrete education system exists in any country. Apart from knowing the subjects, they know how to teach and mold the young minds. They know what requires to be done to impart knowledge and hence hold a very respectable position in the society. Teaching as a profession has always been considered to be one of the most noble as the responsibility of building the society is largely in the hand of the educators.
The government in a democratic country like ours is a representative of the people and hence making the government a part of decision-making is equivalent to involving the people that it represents. In the field of education where public is huge stakeholder, the involvement of government guarantees fair representation to the voice of the people. The people through the government get a say in the various aspects that they think is relevant to any common man’s life. In the case of education, there can be matters of the medium of instruction, the topics that need to be taught, how the topics need to be chosen keeping in mind the ethnicity, religion, region, language and several other factors.
Having analyzed the topic from so many dimensions, if we now try to draw a conclusion as to who should make the educational decisions then we can intuitively suggest some results. First and foremost conclusion that I personally drew would be regarding the importance of having both the government and the educators in the decision-making setup. As we discussed the role of both of them, we certainly did realize that giving absolute power to any of them would lead to an incomplete setup which would fail to contribute to the development of the nation. Secondly, both of these can work in two ways. They can either choose to ignore their duties and be partners in the same or they can keep a check on each other, maintaining a healthy relationship while working for the betterment of the country.
The decision-making process should thus be a very subjective one. We need to have a model wherein the government and the educators both have a say. Educators definitely know what decision would be in the best interest of education. However, when the government would participate then it would, by acting on behalf of the public, add credibility to the decisions and then these decisions would not be taken in isolation. They would be able to incorporate the views and opinions of a large part of the population. The major obstacle that we need to overcome here would be to try and see to it that at no point is the decision-making politicized. This basically means that the role and intent of the government should remain the same irrespective of the ruling party’s agenda. The agenda should not have an impact on the process or else we would be ignoring the interests of so many people. So the practical way to go about it would be to have a conditional autonomy given to a body of educators. These educators should be politically neutral, that it should not give any relevance to political ideologies while formulating plans and making decisions.
The conditional autonomy would ensure that the government would have a say in the decision-making process when and if there is a requirement but would protect the body of educators from any unnecessary political influence that might have unwanted ramifications in the public discourse. The only motive that needs to be kept in mind that education should be a tool for the nation to grow, for the society to build itself and for an individual to explore and contribute to all humanity. Any idea that fails to abide by this motive needs to be discarded and should have no place for either the educators or the government. The need of the hour is a well thought of, duly constructed education system that imbibes in itself the values of selflessness, humanity and knowledge.