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Weekend: let education rule again!

On Sun, 20 Sep 1998 wings@hd1.vsnl.net.in wrote:

> Our task is to define policy - policy that will work. 


> Keeping this in view, I think it is senseless to say that education should
> be entirely private run/managed/owned. If all children of this country are
> to be primary-educated, at least, there is no way but for government to do
> it. We simply cannot leave it to private enterprise/local voluntary bodies
> to take it up. It might take ages before anything substantial is achieved.

Ajay and others: The model I have proposed and some others commented
favorably upon, is the a workable model, it relies on systemic change, and
it places responsibility on the stakeholders. 

a) Assigning Responsibility:

There is this repeated talk of 'government' taking responsibility for the
children of the citizens. Let us be clear:
	If you produce a child, then YOU are responsible for the child.
	i.e., Parents retain full responsibility for their children, 
	including their children's education.

b) Social cost/benefit:

It is clear that MOST of the value created through education is captured
by the child and hence by the parents. That you are a Chartered Accountant
does mean that society gains a "Consumer Surplus" through your services.
However, almost the entire surplus is captured by you - the owner of that
education. In turn, most of the secondary gain is captured by your
parents (old age security, etc.).

There are some INTANGIBLE benefits that education gives to the society,
such as reduction in over-all population, better quality of democracy,
etc. That is why we, as tax-payers, can permit the partial funding of
education. In this way, we the tax-payer pay for the consumer surplus that
we gain from other people's education.

Take the case of IITs, for example. I the tax payer have funded IITs for
50 years, and I feel cheated. Most of that tax has been appropriated by
the alumni of the IITs. i.e., government should do a very minimal funding
of higher education. 

We agreed to the principle of a scaled funding of education, say:

	close to 100% in the most poor, backward areas
	about 70% in other primary education (average)
	about 50% in secondary education 
	about 10% in higher education (mostly scholarships)

- this is a very tentative breakup. Once agreed to, such formulae can be
made completely systemic, i.e., non-discretionary.

c) Conversion of all schools into societies (most already should be)

This is because we want to make the whole thing non-discretionary.
government money will flow into the society's account directly. It will
not pass through intermediaries. There will be only one  - systemic -
check: for the last year's audited report. 

If a school fails to submit audited report, the parents who are on the
management committee will have to think up some way to resolve the
problem. I as a tax-payer cannot be bothered if the parents themselves
cannot honestly manage the accounts of their children's education. 

I as a tax payer authorize a SUBSIDY to education - which is the primary
responsibility of parents. I do not authorize ANY REPRESENTATIVE
(government) to manage education.

d) funding of R&D: I as taxpayer can help finance novel and innovative
research, in ANY sector of the economy. We could fund industries,
universities, etc., - anyone who can produce results. Edison would be
funded on a top priority even if he was a completely private sector man. 

e) Standards: organizations like those which run the SAT exam would be
funded by taxpayers - their only job: set up the best tests and test
students all over the country for basic skills. Boards could continue with
the business of conducting 'finishing' exams to award publicly recognized

f) Language: each school would decide which language it wants the children
to learn. By a VAST majority, everywhere, parents - the MAJOR stakeholders
- have voted for English as the medium of instruction where they want
their children to study. That is immaterial, though. If parents wish, they
could set up and run a French medium school. Leave it to PARENTS - don't
let anyone else decide. I do not authorize a Minister of Education to
decide this in any case. The parent's rights cannot be so lightly given
away to the ministers.

> School education of all children should be a MAJOR FUNCTION of the
> government. I am saying this, despite having generally strong objections to
> government role in our lives. This is because, I repeat, unless government
> takes it up, univeral education will be impossible to achieve in a span of a
> decade.

Ajay: this argument is false because what you say has been true since 50
years, and the results are there for all to see. Govt. has been COMPLETELY
unsuccessful in promoting education through public schooling. Don't let us
encourage disasters. Let us learn from the past 50 years. What the
government could not do in 50 years, it CANNOT surely do in the next 10
years. I was Secy. Education of a full-fledged state. Believe me. The
state of educational administration is so pathetic, that the system CANNOT
and WILL NOT deliver the goods you want. Money making is the primary
function of the top bureaucrats and ministers in these departments. The
rot has sunk in to the core. Don't ever tell me you expect this rotten
machinery to deliver ANYTHING! Have you not heard about the official
copying now allowed in some parts of the country? Why do you trust those
ministers/ officials who have only one goal: of squeezing the system dry?
How naive can we be? I am telling you the truth, and yet people continue
to live in their imaginary world of "perfection" of government?

> At the same time, *all education* should be delicenced (loosely speaking).
> Education as business should be freely encouraged and not looked down upon.
> Government should institute strong and effective regulatory authorities for
> education - but should allow anyone to set up schools, colleges and
> institutions to for education, in all fields.

Perfect: already incorporated by Parth. This SHOULD go into the manifesto.
For sure. Vital issue. By the way, what I am proposing above is precisely
the mechanism for the delicensing. See that? It is also the only systemic
change in education that will achieve our (strange?) objective of
educating somebody else's children.


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