Education for all, according to Kapil Sibal

Posted: July 15, 2009 in IITs, The Right To Education Act, villagers
Tags: , , , , ,

For all the sense HRD Minister Kapil Sibal made when he was on TV talking about the need to reform the education system, I really believed here was a doer and not a talker. According to him the The Right to Education Act, will be our “societal obligation” to the underprivileged. So far so good, or so I thought!
But now that Bill is on its way to becoming an Act, it’s obvious that neither Mr Sibal nor his government is interested in making it an instrument of change to educate poor Indians. All he wants to do is to push his party’s ‘backward’ agenda which will, he hopes, get him and his party more votes in the future.
If Mr Sibal really cared for the millions of children who don’t have access to even a slate and pencil, why doesn’t he open more schools, and get more teachers in the villages? I guess, that’s too much trouble for him. So instead, he and his government will push through a Bill that will be used as a stick to beat private educational institutions into agreeing to part with 25 per cent seats for the underprivileged – the same underprivileged the government has never had any intention of empowering for the past 60-odd years, because it suits the politicians to keep them that way.
If every child between the age of 6 and 14 can get free education in government schools, why force private educational institutions to reserve seats? Is it because Mr Sibal knows that the Bill is not even worth the paper it’s printed on and will do nothing to empower the nation’s underprivileged children? And pray, why have the kids below 6 years of age been left out? Does the government believe that education only begins after the age of six? Hasn’t he heard of play schools? Or does he believe that is the rich man’s preserve? Maybe there too he can demand reservation?
Free education is a great idea, if you consider its benefits for the weaker sections. But to implement the idea you need two things – SCHOOLS and TEACHERS. And there aren’t too many of them around in the countryside, are they? And there never will be, because educating millions of kids in this country takes money. And the politicians are too busy lining their pockets with the green stuff, to worry about educating some poor kid in a village.

You have only to visit the interiors of any State in India to realise there is nothing like an education system prevalent there. When we lived in UP some years ago, we drove into a village near Lucknow, and saw a board that proudly proclaimed ‘English Medium School’. The building, however, had neither a roof nor proper walls. At some places there were just thatched huts and there were neither students nor teachers. And this was just 40 kms from the capital of the State, so you can guess what it must be like in the interiors.
Look what reservations have done to the IITs. Over a thousand seats meant for the underprivileged are lying vacant there, and people who deserve to get in and can afford to pay can’t get in, because those seats are not meant for them. So while the IITs bleed, the government is too busy playing the reservation card.
We met Shabana Azmi some months ago in Pune and she told us about how her father, the Late Kaifi Azmi started a tailoring school for underprivileged girls and women in a village called Mijwan near near his hometown Azamgarh. Now that is empowerment, and not the kind that Mr Sibal and his friends in Parliament swear by. There’s a lady doctor in the US who runs a charity organisation called Home of Hope. She raises funds in the US so that the street kids in India can lead a better life. And here we have a group of 500 plus men and women, who swear on the Bhagwad Gita, and then make themselves rich with the money meant for the poor.
What surprises me even more is the silence from a majority of the educated and supposedly intelligent media. Most of them seemed to be happy to play along with what the government feeds them and just don’t seem to be interested in asking the right questions. Maybe the freebies and the junkets are something they are getting used to.
During the time when V.P. Singh played his Mandal card, I remember asking a colleague, who was an SC, how he felt now that his kids would be assured a government job. He said he felt like the cow that just got the owner’s name branded on its hide. So much for reservations! Oh and just in case you think I am saying all this because I have an ulterior motive — my son studies in a government aided SSC school and I am quite happy about it.
  1. Nilesh Sane says:

    Well written. As long as there are poor in the country there will always be leaders who would want to keep them that way. And what better way than to deprive the source of education from the needy and the deserved?

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