People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 21

May 31, 2009

 


Plight of Education in Madhya Pradesh

 

Jaswinder Singh

 

BY the time of writing these lines, the 10th exam results have taken the toll of the life of five children in Madhya Pradesh. The state’s school education minister, Mrs Archana Chitnis, said she would take to task the officers who have been responsible for the poor results. On the other hand, the chief minister was refreshing himself in the hill stations of Kullu and Manali. He did not care to rush back; evidently school results were not to him so pressing a matter that he could think of giving up the joys of a hilly vacation. His priorities are also different; education results figure very low in this list.

But the statements issued by the school education ministers make it clear that the government is by no means serious on this matter and that whatever is being done is for public consumption only. It is possible that this fellow or that is made a scapegoat in the coming days, but there is little possibility of the government going into the root causes of the problem. The leaders of the regime know well that they would burn their own house if they go into any details. It is evident that they would most possibly come up with some or other excuse, with the result that some more children would end their life next year.

The basic question is: Are not the policy of privatisation of education responsible for this poor outcome?

The hard fact is that comparatively better results have come from the government schools which are being defamed as the part of a conspiracy to hand over the entire education sector to the private sector. Government schools also figure much better in the merit list. On the other hand, private schools, charging heavy amounts from parents, have given poor results. One cannot but doubt the government’s motives if the private schools are still eulogised and the campaign to denigrate the government schools continue unabated.

This is, in fact, a particular brand of politics that argues against the participation of students community in politics, while giving the mafia bosses a free hand to run the education system as they like. The fact is that the BJP government, led by Shivraj Singh Chauhan, would immediately plunge into a crisis of existence if it ever tries to prepare a list of education mafias. The reason is that an overwhelming majority of his ministers are running schools and colleges in various parts of the state. The same is true about the BJP leaders. Thus the moot question is: who would dare act against the mafia bosses when the latter control the government itself?

The regime of liberalisation has changed the very social values and ideals. Education, once a social service, is now a business, and to talk of service is against the rules and traditions of any business. Profit is the motive of any business and the most quoted proverb is that a horse cannot survive if it befriends the grass. The implication is clear: spread of education is no concern of those running the educational institutions. They are not here for any removal of ignorance and illiteracy. As a result, they do not care about opening a school in a backward and far-flung area which lacks one. Their horses are to be found in those very areas where green grass abounds. They open schools in areas where parents are able to pay hefty fees, including donations in the name of “capitation fee.” Improving the quality of education, so as to make the children so many worthy citizens of this country, naturally becomes a low priority in such a milieu.

Would the government be able to impose any control on the greediness of these education mafias? It seems improbable. While some of these mafiaites are sitting in the ministerial chairs, others pay heavy donations at regular intervals and at the election time, in order to purchase immunity from the government.

The fact is that capitalism has changed the very meaning of some of the terms. For example, purely private schools are called “public” schools here. Some of them do receive grants from the government, and most of them swallow even the scholarships given by the government to the economically weak students. A large number of them pay their teachers substantially less than what they make the latter sign upon. In these schools, students score 85 to 95 per cent marks until they appear in “home examinations” and these schools exploit the parents by touting these results. But the reality gets exposed as soon as these students appear in a board examination. By that time, however, a grave social crime --- the crime of weakening the educational base of these children and thus making their future bleak – is already committed.

Saraswati Shishu Mandirs occupy a prominent place in this list of criminals. The fascist RSS, which runs and controls these institutions, is striving its hardest to expand this chain as far as possible. But these schools have nothing to offer their students except unscientific education and superstitions in the name of samskars. They blatantly distort the history curricula in order to inject the venom of communalism into the psyche of their students. But all their tall talk of Indian tradition, Aryan culture and gurukul education also stands exposed. While they do not lag behind in charging hefty fees, they too have failed to deliver the goods, as their exam results are no less poor. Will the state education minister be able to make these schools account for their performance? Hardly. She knows that her own chair is at the mercy of the RSS bosses who would be writing her “CR” (confidential report).

The need today is to subject the exam results to a post mortem. The need today is to encourage the government schools who have given better results despite odd circumstances. Today they badly lack resources. They have very poorly equipped libraries and laboratories, if they have at all. Once a teacher is transferred somewhere else, students have to remain without a teacher for days and weeks, sometimes for months together. Many of the primary schools are single-teacher schools while many of them lack proper buildings and several run under the open sky. The teachers of these schools too are exploited in several ways, intimidated by officials, and made to do odd jobs like poverty line surveys, electoral identity card registrations etc in a substantial part of the year --- all for a pittance. It is in such a situation that these schools have given better results.

As for the private schools, while the government lacks courage to take the private schools to task, the talk is that it is seeking to “improve” the exam results by the trick of allowing “grace marks.” While this trick may promote some of the students to the next class, the question is: Will they be able to face the stiff competition in the entrance examinations ahead? The minimum the government needs to do is to ensure their admission to the next class. Will the government think of doing so? More so because this step may deplete the recruitment base for Bajrang Dal!