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Srini: As a practicing teacher and kind of 'yogi' in the field of School
Education, I agree in etirity with the following flow of thought and
very much so the spirit behind it. However, IMHO a few points of
clarification and/or modification may be worth considering.
> I have tried to follow this discussion on education as closely as I could.
> Although I am no expert on education, here is my little contribution for
> whatever it is worth.
> I think education can in no way be called a "public good", and therefore
> there is no reason to believe that there is "market failure" in the field of
> education. Consequently, there is no ground for the govt. to be involved in
> education whether through funding, or management, providing seed money to
> local bodies or NGOs, or even subsidies in the form of mid-day meals.
Srini: True. But, public money has to be utilized for public good. So, a
part of Govt. receipts must be earmarked for Education. It is yet
another question as to how this money must be put to use. i don't think
there is any country in the world where Govt. doesn't earmark 'funds'
> For a civilization that survived on the basis of its "gurukul" system, and
> where today we can see the incredible proliferation of private tutorials,
> coaching classes, and vocational institute, I donot understand why private
> bodies - for profit and non-profit - would not be able to meet the demand,
> set their own standards, and compete with each other.
> Allowing the state in this area will only help legitise the role of govt. in
> similar situations. And it will in due course give rise to interest group
> warfare and falling quality. In the US there are organizations that are
> opposing the school voucher system as a means of ensuring greater
> competition among schools, and they have called for separation of school and
Srini: Voucher system or no voucher system, no one can match the
phenomenal chunk of money available for teachers and educators to avail
themselves of, in the form of 'grants'. This is something that is vital
promote quality, creativity and research. This may not just be possible
but for 'provisions'. And but for this provision for individual
excellence, our journey could be a static car on the static road. We
need to fuel the car and keep it in good shape.
> As for the poorest of the poor, I think it would be very arrogant of us to
> think that because they may be illiterate, they are also ignorant. The two
> words are not synonymous. I think the primary reason why many parents don't
> think of investing much in education is because of the general economic
> environment in the country. For instance, employment in the organised sector
> - both govt. and private - has remained almost flat for over a decade. And
> for the informal/unorganised sector formal educational qualification has
> never been a barrier.
> Indeed, I can cite instances, where illiterate/semi-literate parents in
> remote villages organised themselves to hire a teacher (for a salary which
> consisted of part cash, part farm produce) to teach their children the basic
> three R's. Because that is what they could afford, and thought adequate in
> their conditions.
> Therefore the only area of interest in the field of education ought to be on
> ways of removing restrictive barriers to entry and running of educational
> establishments, mandatory standards, minimum qualification for teachers,
> etc. Then trust the market to achieve a balance between supply and demand.
> And allow competion to ensure quality.
Srini: Releasing the 'jams' and 'breaks' is one thing. Energising the
system is another thing. There has to be a collective support for an
endeavour like education and there comes in the 'tax money'. There has
to be a competition to 'spend' the money wisely. Now, the Govt. itself
spending the breeds inefficiency, red tapism, corruption and finally
multiple facets of education: the one on the paper, the one in reality
(schools) and the one desired. Govt. should arbitrate through law; not
provide education and legistlate (legitamise) its own hogwash called
> Finally, education and literacy should not be looked in isolation from the
> general intellectual and economic climate. Consider that countries like
> North Korea, Cuba, former Soviet Union had all achieved almost 100%
> literacy, but that did not help these countries much. Likewise in Kerala,
> 100% literacy and better health care system have transformed it into a
> heaven on earth. It is one of the most socially and politically fragmented
> society, has very high suicide rates, relatively high incidence of crimes
> against women, very few employment opportunities, has failed to attract the
> attention of the investors, and even the remittances from Keralites living
> out side has been used not been put to any regenerative use, but in real
> estate, housing, and gold (three age old avenues of investment in troubled
Srini: Kerala's 100% literacy cannot be quoted as proof of any success
in any education. If Kerala sends out excellent educators, thinkers and
the like, we can say Kerala has awakened to education. Literacy is again
a statistical farce; that too an ephemeral one.
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