Chapter 12

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Education


The present system of education in India has failed to meet the vital needs of national life; it is hopelessly out of touch with social and economic realities and envisions no creative and inspiring ideal. Far-reaching reforms, therefore, will have to be introduced under the swaraj Constitution. The following are a few key points:

a. Basic education shall be free and compulsory. It shall be imparted to all boys and girls up to the age of 14, through a productive craft like spinning, weaving and agriculture. Such education would serve a treble purpose in a poor country like India, namely, (1) It would impart sound knowledge to students; (2) It would meet most or part of the cost of education; (3) It would make students generally fit for a vocation in life.

b. There shall be absolutely no corporal punishment in educational institutions.
 
c. The medium of instruction at all stages of education shall be the mother tongue. The imposition of the English medium of instruction has, indeed, been one of the major educational tragedies in this country. "It has sapped the energy of the nation, it has shortened the lives of the pupils. It has estranged them from the masses; it has made education unnecessarily expensive. If this process is still persisted in, it bids fair to rob the nation of its soul."
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d. The village panchayats shall try to liquidate illiteracy as early as possible. Adult education, however, shall not be confined to the knowledge of the three R’s. Adults shall be imparted general education in health, hygiene, sanitation, agricultural efficiency, cooperatives and civic rights. Hereto, the basis will be a craft.

e. University education shall be confined mostly to higher technical training and research.

f. It shall be incumbent on a graduate to render free social service for one year before receiving his or her degree.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Education
The subject ‘Education’ should be primarily under local jurisdiction. Grassroots governments should manage state primary education. The district or city government should regulate private primary education and manage state higher secondary education. State governments should regulate higher secondary education and manage state universities. Private universities, subject to regulation by autonomous professional councils, should be self-regulated.
 
There should be three types of educational institutions, namely, (1) state owned providing subsidised education to the needy, (2) private trusts providing free infrastructure and charging fees to cover operating costs, and (3) limited companies providing skill based education at profit and giving dividends to investors. The first promotes equity, the second excellence, and the third relevance. The fees of state institutions should be determined on actual operating cost and scholarship given to the needy. This will prevent wastage and ensure that the wealthy do not benefit from the subsidy. Private trusts should be allowed to charge any fee they pre-notify and use the surplus to subsidise the needy, improve infrastructure and expand. To facilitate innovation and experimentation, state instead of national councils should accredit standards of technical education.
 
Summer vacation is a colonial concept designed by our foreign rulers to vacation in hills or in their country during the warm tropical summer months. In the tropics, vacation should be in the festive winter months to enable the youth to partake in active sports and travel near and far to absorb culture and environment. Deprived of such education, our youth are presently less informed about cultural and environmental issues than those in the west. The hostels, then vacant in winter months, can be converted into low budget tourist accommodation and will earn huge revenues for the educational institutions while providing a useful facility. The colonial practice of courts closing for summer vacation should be discontinued as it increases litigation costs, delays and harassment to citizens.

—- PEOPLE FIRST

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