Published: 02nd July 2018
Why it might be better to impart market-centric education to everyone
Coping with admissions in such high-cost, elite schools is a major operation for school authorities and a fertile field for influence-peddlers
Ask, it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks of him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”
— The Bible
Some are given, some find, for some doors are opened and some receive. But many others get stone instead of bread and serpent instead of fish. That is the dual scenario in our education sector. But first, the facts.
I have launched a mission to collect toys and books from those who have and no longer need them and distribute them among kids who have no access to such toys, playthings, and books. This is done under the banner of Johnlyn Toy Exchange and Book Bank. I also personally collect these from elite schools in Mangaluru. On my visits these days, I find notices all over the campus proclaiming that all admissions are over.
Coping with admissions in such high-cost, elite schools is a major operation for school authorities and a fertile field for influence-peddlers. I understand that some heads of such elite schools and colleges, including professional colleges, go on long foreign trips till the admission season is over, for favouring influence-peddlers may involve sacrificing fat under-the-table cash transactions (a version of capitation fee?), which their underlings can handle with finesse. Incidentally, owners of such institutions and the education department babus are now haggling about how much of increase can be allowed in officially sanctioned charges over last year’s level.
Private school managements in Karnataka have taken objection to the State Government’s new policy on the fee structure. The associated managements of primary and secondary schools in Karnataka on June 5 called an emergency meeting of its members to discuss the matter.
On the other (lower) end of the spectrum, media reports noted that in the new academic year, teachers deployed in government schools with poor student strength have been charged with the responsibility of bringing students to the classroom. According to the Department of Primary and Secondary Education, government teachers in lower primary schools have to ensure that they have at least 25 students, while teachers in higher primary schools need to have a minimum of 50 students. Before the start of the 2016-2017 academic year, the department had decided to close 2,959 government schools across Karnataka that had less than ten students. It was forced to withdraw the order later because of a public outcry.
Education is described as preparation to meet life’s situations. One component of it is to secure gainful jobs. How are such poorly paid and shabbily treated teachers going to equip their students to face life’s situations, especially in the employment market? Isn’t it a case of hoisting up the well-endowed and keeping down the suppressed downtrodden at the start of their lives?