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Re.: compulsory education



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http://www.indiapolicy.org/lists/india_policy/2000/Jan/msg00071.html

I must admit that I have not followed this thread too closely, even though I
might have a thing or two to say in this subject. In fact while to coming to
work this morning, as usual I had NPR (National Public Radio) on, and what
caught my attention was the talk on the radio about an experiment being
carried out (I forget which particular town they talked about) in some place
of California, specific cases were discussed, as always, there were
supporters and detractors of the experiment, and they say, even the state is
considering bringing up a legislation to implement this experiment, which
comes very close to the Compulsory Education debate of this forum. 

This was about forcing parents to be accountable to ensure their kids
(already enrolled in public schools I suppose) don't miss classes for
whatever reasons. Initially parents would be informed, then summoned to the
office of, I think they said City Attorney, and as a last resort, parents
would even be pulled into a court, and the judge could levy a fine, force
the parents to take mandatory parenting classes conducted by the department
of social services, and if the parents don't seem to comply or reign in on
their disobedient children, then they could even face jail term. I think I
clearly heard the reporter said at least two people have been imprisoned
since this ordinance came into being some six months ago, and now people are
talking about bringing even the children alongwith the parents within the
scope so that they are awarded disciplinary punishment for their
non-compliance with school attendance requirements. 

I know these issues are very controversial, but in a country such as the
United States, such experiments getting carried out tells a lot about how
difficult it is to find a nicer and freer way to impart basic education to
all children, and yes sometimes parents, despite their best intentions, are
the problem due to their ignorance, lack of minimum resources to even feed,
dress up and send their kids to school, and a caring resource provider
(obviously the government) with a disciplinary stick (can be defined to
suite requirement and laws can be enacted to prevent misuse) have to be
looked at.

Lofty ideals of not allowing governments to force anything, or blaming every
act of government as being corrupt is like walking away from the problem,
and ignoring those who cannot help themselves. I think education has to be
compulsory. Educated and wealthy people should be allowed to choose from
among various private schools provided such schools don't teach terrorism
like some Madersa's of POK, and that's where Government needs to enforce
some regulatory standards. For others, government needs to provide fully
funded public schools, with most of administrative controls to local elected
body of City or village administration. In fact, wherever possible, most of
the funding for the local schools ought to come from taxes, say property
taxes, of the local residents,and government should fulfill the gap between
what can be raised locally and what is required to run the school, and the
amount of government assistance can vary between wealthy neighborhood and
poor and backward neighborhood. 

As for as enforcement of Mandatory education, I see nothing wrong in the
government requiring parents to send their kids to schools, private or
public rather then exploiting them in child labor or simply abusing them due
to their backwardness and ignorance. It should be school teachers and school
administration that ought to control initiation of any action, and city
birth records that ought to verify that every kid that is born is enrolled
in any school public or private at the appropriate age, and if not, the
parents are made answerable. As for the quality of education, once you give
control of the school to locally elected body of people's representatives,
and provide sufficient funding by the government, and keep this issue in the
forefront of public-political debate, slowly, situation will improve, and
nobody other then the parents, who would indirectly control the school
administration through their elected city administration, would be ensuring
that quality education is imparted to their children. 

Umesh Tiwari

Umesh Tiwari


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