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Re: Response to draft education policy

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
___Help make this manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!___
Reacting to the views of Jitendra Shah on the above subject, Sanjeev
Sabhlok referred to an excellent book by Andrew J. Coulson on "Market
Education". I am of the opinion that the author's conclusions that
"stagnation in the science and art of instruction has few parallels
outside of the public/nonprofit sector" and "parental choice in a private
educational market is a far more effective system for educating children
than government run schools" apply very well for India also. 

But from the following extract, it is clear that the so-called private
schools mentioned in the IPI draft manifesto are only government-aided
private schools, which can be no way better than the public schools. 

"Education by private schools is not only permissible, but preferable. All
schools, regardless of ownership, shall receive funding from the
government. However, this does not vest government with the power to
manage them in any way. Funds are to be provided to private schools only
so that the obligation to fund every child's education at a minimum level
is met." 

The private institutions of Andrew are those sustaining almost exclusively
through self-generating resources and not government grants. There are
presently several highly successful private residential schools all over
India, which include certain well-known institutions like the Kodaikanal
International School, imparting high-quality education to the students.
There are a large number of private tutorial institutions to prepare
students for various competitive examinations to get into good courses or
jobs. There are also a large number of privately-managed computer-training
institutions, which provide the best-possible training in the fields of
programming, hardware, and networking. Many students take a university
degree for the sake of recognition and get real knowledge in computing
techniques through these private institutions. 

I wish to now comment on the views of Jitendra. 

Jitendra wrote:

The draft education policy is highly objectionable.  It does not start
with a necessary observation of the state of affairs. 

My comments: 

Any change in the existing system by a new system proposed in the
manifesto would be "highly objectionable" due to a variety of reasons such
as, being an actual beneficiary/prospective beneficiary of the existing
system, a strong bias on the existing system, and a strong resentment for
any change. For each change proposed in the manifesto, it is therefore
necessary to explain (i) a "necessary observation of the state of affairs"
under the existing system, (ii) the defects in the existing system which
have not allowed for adequate development, (iii) the details of the new
system proposed, (iv) the manner in which the new system produced good
results in other countries, and (v) how the new system can also work under
Indian conditions to bring similar development in India. In order to get
minimum opposition for any system change, it is necessary to ensure that
the present beneficiaries of the existing system are no way affected by
the proposed change. 

Jitendra wrote: 

In particular the extent of involvment of the criminal elements in
education, so called private education has been ignored. ... As an
activist in the educational front I have intimate knowledge of the
scandals in private educational institutions. 

My comments: 

I fully agree with this point as far as the government-aided private
institutions are concerned. They do well as long as they are in the hands
of the honest people. Otherwise there would be large-scale pilferage of
funds. Many such schools get government aid through bribery and resort to
corruption in staff recruitment. In addition, there is favoritism in staff
recruitment with most recruited staff belonging to the religion/caste of
the chief promoter of the school. 

Jitendra wrote: 

The looting by private/foreign universities has been ignored. 

My comments: 

It has been stated in the manifesto that "The creation of private
universities must be encouraged. This is necessary not only to ensure
creative and dynamic functioning at the highest levels, but also to enable
government to downsize its huge commitment to higher education in favor of
primary education." I don't find anything wrong with this statement. 

It is an established fact that private universities generally function
better than the state universities in foreign countries. As the private
universities have to sustain on self-generating funds, tutition fees are
normally exorbitant particularly to foreign students. Although rare from
the accredited universities in the United States, certain accredited
universities in other countries such as Australia, while being strict with
local students, dilute rules in favor of certain rich Indian and other
foreign students to award higher degrees despite not acquiring adequate
knowledge. Despite this sort of looting, the knowledge acquired by these
students is superior to that acquired from an average Indian university. 

Jitendra wrote: 

The role of the State to ensure education has been denied by stating that
the education must be private. 

My comments: 

There is no truth in this point. It has been stated in the manifesto that
"The government shall provide the funds necessary to cover the cost of
education for all children in cases where economic hardhsip is a factor.
The funds allotted to a child's education may nevertheless be used for
education in a non-government school."  Despite this, the State has to
continue to play its present role in education. 

The present system of education is in vogue ever since India became
independent in 1947. Despite this, the system lacks both quality and
quantity. Although teachers in government schools or government-aided
private schools get good salaries, they are unable to do good work for
want of the requisite infrastructures. They may also deliberately neglect
their duties owing to the enormous job security they enjoy. 

The only solution is to allow the growth of private schools to impart
quality education at an affordable price. The private teachers are
generally provided with better infrastructures and cannot afford to
neglect their duties owing to lack of job security. The only snag here is
that even schools which make good savings prefer to treat it as profit and
pay inadequate remuneration to the teachers. There is need to evolve an
equitable method of distributing the earnings of a school for the creation
of infrastructures, staff salaries, and profit to the school management. 

The government should allocate 6% of Gross Domestic Product towards
education. Expenditure on higher education should be progressively
reduced. The surplus money so available should not be used for starting
new schools or give aid to new private schools. This money should be used
to give scholarships/interest-free loans to the needy students who wish to
pursue education in public/private schools. When the students have the
opportunity to chose the school of study, there would be competition among
public/private schools to attract students. There would be then an
improvement in the quality of education in all the competing
public/private schools. Private accreditation agencies would then come
forward to educate the public on the merits of each school by using some
objective criteria. 

Jitendra wrote: 

I hope those who have framed the draft policy not be blind to the

My comments: 

The first draft policy was framed in December 1998. It has been improved
through public debate to form the second draft policy on 6 February 1999.
Knowledgeable persons like Jitendra should come forward with realities, so
that the third draft policy could be prepared without being "blind to the

Prof. R. Jagadiswara Rao, Ph.D.
Chairman, Rayalaseema Vikas Parishad
63A Vidyanagar, Tirupati, AP 517502, India
(Presently in the USA on a visit)

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