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Re: Manifesto

On Thu, 10 Sep 1998, Pratap Raju wrote:

> I agree with much that Utkarsh had to say about Education. I would like to
> add the following (some of them somewhat minor) questions/points:
> [1] How to divorce schools from politics?
>  The first step is to make the appointment of the head of a school
> apolitical. 

I don't believe that the govt. should be involved in any selection of
teachers/ Principals or in the management of schools, directly or
indirectly. It can provide part-salary (incentive) based on a completely
neutral formula (such that the most backward and illiterate regions get a
disproportionately higher amount automatically)  but never actually
appoint. That power must ENTIRELY vest with the local citizens whose
children attend the school. 

The main theme of democracy and freedom of citizens will mean that people
have to take charge of their own lives; if they do politics, that is fine
by me. To say that politics is bad is itself a fallacy. Politics is
itical when we want the people to get involved. Politics represents
people's participation and involvement.

But however the people manage their own schools, there should be
definitely NO appointments by the government, no job security, no fancy
retirement benefits. Those things can be done through a social security
system. Today, (and I speak from personal experience of having managed the
secondary education of one of the states as Secretary to Government), this
business of appointment is a hotbed of corruption and an unbelievable
nuisance. The parents are completely alienated from the system since the
teachers are not accountable. Power must devolve with those whose interest
is being served: i.e., the parents; it must not be stealthily appropriated
by those who are most likely to misuse it, viz., the Directors of
Education and the bureaucrats, ministers, etc.

In essence I am clearly advocating 100% private schools which will be run
completely independently, like NGOs, and might charge fees/ or parents
might contribute voluntary labor if they like, but which might receive
fixed formula based grants to do whatever they like with it. I don't want
any inspectors auditing those grants. Nothing. Except that the body which
receives the grants must be a registered school, legally allowed to
receive funds and keep accounts and submit privately audited statements
each year. If that body fails to submit audited accounts (by Chartered
accountant or by a "barefoot accountant") then the grants must be
completely stopped.

The key problem is not politics but (a) that teachers are not accountable
and many times do not attend the school, (b) corruption in appointment,
postings and transfers, from which the Education Ministers usually make
their "living" and run their elections. Give the people their schools
back, and let them do whatever they like with their teachers. If they take
care of their teachers well, the people will benefit. Why should we think
that government can spoon feed them (it actually kills all local
initiative, and fosters unbelievable corruption).


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