Lok Satta

Thursday, 01 April 2010 12:08

Adopt schools, Dr. JP tells college students

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Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today called upon like-minded groups of youngsters in colleges to adopt a primary school or two in their neighborhood and take up mentoring of students. “It will be a win-win deal for students in both colleges and schools.”

 

 Dr. JP said that college students rendering such service as part of NSS (National Service Scheme) could be given credits in college and weightage in admissions to institutions of higher learning. Addressing the media on the Right to Education Act, effective from April 1, Dr. JP said the Lok Satta welcomed the Act wholeheartedly although it had not come a day soon. As the Prime Minister himself recalled, Gopalakrishna Gokhale had requested the Imperial Assembly to confer the right to education on Indians 100 years ago. Japan had become prosperous and powerful because it conferred the right to education 110 years ago.

 

Dr. JP said India had a surfeit of laws made by well-meaning people. “Unfortunately, we are always long on intent and short on execution.” If the Right to Education Act were to serve its purpose, the Government should straightway increase the allocation of funds from Rs.25000 crore in tune with the requirement of enabling a crore of children to attend school. “After all, the Union Governments and State Governments are squandering tens of thousands of crores on giveaways in the name of serving the poor. While such giveaways make people dependent on Government, education makes them stand on their own feet with dignity.”

 

 Dr. JP underscored the need to build infrastructure as the Government implemented the Act. The Andhra Pradesh Government, for instance, spends Rs.2300 crore on scholarships and fee reimbursement but does not bother to spend less than Rs.50 crore on providing toilets and drinking water facilities in schools.

 

Dr. JP said that more important than allocation of resources and provision of infrastructure is delivery of services. Going by the Annual Status of Education Report, 30 to 40 percent of seventh class students cannot read and 60 to 70 percent of them cannot do a simple arithmetic sum like division. The Act will not serve its purpose if it succeeds in merely enrolling children in schools. Institutional mechanisms like district and city boards to monitor and improve teaching standards should be made. The boards can provide incentives and promote competition among schools. Fifty percent of members of such boards should be experts in education.

 

The most vital characteristic of a modern, civilized society is to ensure that every child, irrespective of the accident of the womb, has an opportunity to fulfil her true potential. If that central purpose of politics and governance is forgotten in our quest for captive vote banks, we become traitors to the nation. This is cause beyond partisan politics and parties. This is our national mission.

 

Dr. JP said education is too serious a subject to be left in Government hands alone. Everybody including civil society organizations, industry and business should strive to improve the quality of education so that India too becomes a super power in the 21st century.