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Ersatz Education

The Right to Education Act should have guaranteed free and equitable education to all the children in India. Alas that is not the case and the sad part is that most of us are unaware of the surreptitious games being played by those in power.

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The Right to Education Act should have guaranteed free and equitable education to all the children in India. Alas that is not the case and the sad part is that most of us are unaware of the surreptitious games being played by those in power.

An article that appeared this week in a well known magazine brings this fact to light. Want to sit on the same bench as America is worth reading. Those of my vintage will remember the days a few decades ago when state run schools worked well and universities were easy of access. Come to think of it there was no or little choice outside these.

How many of us know that way back in 1991 the Indian government accepted the conditionality of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) imposed by the US-led World Bank-IMF regime. This required that public expenditure be reduced on education, health and social welfare.

From 2000 onwards, these dilutions and distortions were repackaged and ‘marketed’ under a new label called Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all). The failure of SSA to provide elementary education (Class I-VIII) to India’s 20 crore children in the 6-14 year age group by the target year of 2010 meant that policymakers rephrased SSA goals downwards and did not undertake a causal analysis to rectify it.

This may have again gone undetected by the likes of us as it was all happening on the other side of the fence and did not affect our children. But think about it and your blood runs cold. On the one hand the children of India get the constitutional right to education but on the other the state starts abdicating its duty to provide the same.

The commercialisation of education had begun; PPP (public private partnership), subsidies to profit making institutions, education loans and a cynically orchestrated media campaign buttressed by internationally funded high-profile NGOs to destroy the credibility of the public-funded education system rung the death knell of state run education both at the school and university. The State abdicated its constitutional obligation.

Markets needs would now dictate knowledge content and we would become a major global provider of low-cost skilled but subservient ‘foot soldiers’ who reinforce the subjugation, hegemony and greed of global capital

The cruel reality is that millions of children who could have aspired to better morrows were the state education system running, will now be forced to remain where they are not because they lack the skills and ability but because they were born on the other side of the fence and can never afford education which now comes with a hefty price tag.Project Why - New Delhi

The little girl in the picture was also born on the wrong side of the fence, yet her brave family scrapped the barrel, tighten the belts till it hurts to ensure that she and her elder sister go to a school on the other side of the invisible fence. It is not easy as there are so many bills to pay but they are not ones to give up and yet I wonder whether this little girl will be able to go the whole nine yards.

In this new emerging scenario what is available for children born on the other side of the fence is an ersatz education that cannot take them far.

Sadly their parents are unable to comprehend the reality and react and the children themselves are voiceless and helpless. By the time they do gain a voice it would be too late.

Courtesy: The Project Why Blog

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.


An0uradha Goburdhun Bakhshi is the Founder of Project Why, a New Delhi (India) based non-profit organisation engaged in education support and life skill enhancement of slum children and their families.  Daughter of a Diplomat father and a fiesty, freedom-fighter mother, Anouradha was born in Prague and has been French translater to former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.


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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

Consultations Begin on the New Industrial Policy

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Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu set off a series of nation-wide consultations with the industry on the proposed new Industrial Policy. The first consultation was held at Guwahati on February 02. The event, organized by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in partnership with Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), was attended by more than 120 industrialists from the North East in addition to government officials from the North Eastern States.

In his speech, the Minister emphasised that this exercise is done after 25 years truly listens to and objectively equips Indian industry for the future. The prior attempts in 1956 and 1991 were formulated at a time of financial crisis.

The minister underscored how the government was coming to the industry to understand their concerns rather than the other way around. The Minister stressed the focus of the government to make business easier for the industry.

Mr Prabhu highlighted multiple initiatives of the government to reduce the burden of regulations for the industry. He also talked about the importance of centre-state cooperation and the need for change even at the district-level.

The event was also attended by Mr Chandra Mohan Patowary, Minister of Industries & Commerce, Government of Assam. In his remarks, Mr Patowary emphasized the North East region’s potential as a gateway to South East Asia.  He  highlighted the need for an  Industrial Policy for the North East

Ms Vandana Kumar, Joint Secretary DIPP, made a detailed presentation on the key highlights of the future policy. She mentioned the dual challenge of dealing with existing issues and in preparing the industry in the wake of global mega-trends such as servification, industry 4.0, responsible industrialization and rising protectionism.

The New industrial policy envisions to create a competitive Indian industry that is equipped with skill scale and technology.

Ms Kumar also highlighted some of the key ideas such as a single ID and digital platform for all G2B services across the business lifecycle, paradigm shift toward self-certification and third-party certification, plug and play infrastructure for SMEs, privatizing maintenance of industrial estates and creating a national R&D vision.

Puneet Dalmia, Chairman FICCI Manufacturing Committee stressed the need to bridge the trust deficit and further the ease of doing business. Mr Atul Chaturvedi, Additional Secretary DIPP, Dr Sanjay Baru Secretary General FICCI, Dilip Chenoy Director General of FICCI were also present.

The session concluded with a vibrant Q&A session moderated by Dr Sanjay Baru SG FICCI with the industries, who highlighted their wishes and concerns.

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NCERT Proposes Uniform Syllabi for Sr Secondary Maths, Science

The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) has developed core syllabi in Science and Mathematics at the higher secondary level and a core syllabus in Commerce would be completed by next month.

The idea is to provide a level-playing field to all students to join professional courses, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said in Rajya Sabha today. 

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The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) has developed core syllabi in Science and Mathematics at the higher secondary level and a core syllabus in Commerce would be completed by next month.

The idea is to provide a level-playing field to all students to join professional courses, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said in Rajya Sabha today. 

He said 21 educational boards had earlier agreed to adopt a core curriculum in science and mathematics at secondary level following a consensus arrived on this issue at the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meet in August 2009 to bring uniformity in these streams.

"Accordingly, NCERT has developed core syllabi in Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at higher secondary stage in collaboration with Council of Boards of Secondary Education and CBSE," he said.

Sibal said the core syllabus for Commerce stream is likely to be completed by next month. 

In August 2009, CABE had emphasised the need for all states to modify their curriculum, syllabi and textbooks on the basis of NCF-2005. 

"It also endorsed the need for a core curriculum in science and mathematics at secondary and higher secondary levels across all Education Boards in the country, so as to provide a level playing field to all students to join professional courses," Sibal said during the Question Hour. 

However, he once again made it clear the government has no proposal to enforce a uniform school curriculum. 

Sibal had earlier said all the 30 boards in the country have their own points of view and in such circumstances it was difficult to implement a uniform school curriculum at secondary and higher secondary level.

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Renowned Sportspersons to Suggest Ideas On Sporting Infrastructure

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The Sports Ministry has constituted a committee of renowned Indian sportspersons to suggest the ways for best utilization of sporting infrastructure created by the Sports Authority of India( SAI) for the Commonwealth Games. This was disclosed by Shri Ajay Maken , Sports Minister , while briefing the media persons after taking round of five Stadia of SAI , here today morning.

Disclosing the composition of the Committee, Shri Maken said “ the Committee consisting of renowned sports persons and veteran sports journalist has been asked to suggest , how best we can utilize the existing sporting infrastructure .” He further informed that the Committee will be chaired by Sports Secretary and comprise of Ms P.T.Usha , Mr Bhaichung Bhutia, Ms. MC Marykom, Mr Dilip Tirkey and veteran Sports Journalist Mr K. Dutta. It has been asked to give its recommendations within four weeks. The Committee would be holding its first meeting on Monday, Shri Maken added.

Today morning , Shri Maken accompanied with Sports Secretary, DG ,CPWD and senior officers of SAI & CPWD has visited Dr SPM Swimming Complex , National Stadium, IGI Complex, JNL Stadium and Dr Karni Singh Shooting range to see himself the status of maintenance of above sporting infrastructure .

Responding the question of media persons about the utilization of Sports infrastructure , Shri Maken categorically stated that SAI stadiums would used for following three purpose only,

          (a) For running Sports Academies for imparting training to children.

          (b) hosting National & International competitions , for which annual calendar will be prepared .

          (c) National teams training for London Olympics.

Commenting on the state of maintenance level in the Stadiums, Shri Maken said the Sports Ministry has decided to hand over three stadiums to NDMC for cleaning and scavenging and other two stadiums would be maintained by the SAI. In response to a question regarding training of National Teams for London Olympics , Shri Maken said ‘ What we can’t do at the time of CWG , we should do for London Olympics and for this SAI is in active discussions with Sports Federations and with DDA also for teams stay arrangements. Very soon, we will come out with blue print.”

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