In Indian constitution a society based on social justice, equality and democratic values has been conceptualized. Ensuring the Right of all children to quality education is essential to move towards such a society. So in β€˜Directive Principle’ of the Constitution a goal was set to ensure free and compulsory elementary education within a decade. But it remained an elusive goal in last six decadeds. Even after the enforcement of Right to Education Act from 1st April 2010, there has been hardly any inspiring move towards its implementation.

We have a dual system of schooling for education. One system is for preparing children from well to do families for global market and other sysem for the rest who are not resourceful and have no option but to go to such a state controlled system where half of children don’t become properly literate, even after five years of schooling. About 40% are not able to completing elementary education.

What could be the reasons for this colossal failure in India, even though many other countries with simmialr per capita income could progress much more in ensuring elementary education to all children?

Following are possible explanations-

  • There has has been lack of political will right from pre independence era, during Consitution making and afterwords.
  • There has not been any major constituent of social polity to demand for education of all children with quality and equity. Better off and middle class parents, being in influential position in government, media & business, assume that poor parent don’t want to educate their children and more over they believe that such children are for menial jobs and can do without proper education.
  • Growth of different types of schools, like model schools of central governmental and private schools, provided an avenue for the better off and middle class parents to get quality education for their children, without bothering to see how state government schools are deteriorating.
  • Now mostly children of deprived families go to state government schools and their voice is so weak that there is no real pressure to improve the access and quality of such schools.
  • Teacher Union, even though politically influential in many states, confined themselves to improving their remunerations & service conditions.

There could be more explanations. But we are presently assuming these to evolve our strategy to promote right of all children to elmentary education with quality and equity.

Engageing with education system, Lokmitra has developed following insights.

  • Parents want to educate their children. If children are not regular in school then somewhere school is not able to fulfill the needs of children. There is lack of suitable learning environment that promotes meaningful learning. Special opportunities are required for the first generation learner children.
  • Contrary to perception of many teachers, children coming to schools, have the capacity and motivation to learn. Children need an encouraging environment without fear or punishment.
  • The morale of teachers becomes weak in a system controlled and managed from above. Teachers’ accountability should be towards parents in place of reporting towards above. Parents assume that school belongs to distant government.
  • All the solutions for betterment of school are not at school level. So intervention should systemic, covering all components and related systems, at all levels.
  • Any educational intervention should promote collective dialogue for within and in between key stakeholders, so as to promote better understanding and suitable action. Any intervention implanted from outside, or carried out as add on, will have little chance to get integrated or meet the purpose.

Ways to move ahead

  • For better governance of basic education changes are required in policy, planning, administration and management of education so that decentralization and participation is promoted.
  • To initiate the process of change, it is required that in the course of reviewing education system from the point of view of policy and implementation, a draft for extensive change be prepared. Extensive discussions on this draft conducted in groups of teachers, educationists, officers, peoples’ representatives and with parents as well. This way the draft of change will become better and the ground will be ready for implementation of those changes.