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Education Policy Statement




Further to the point that Arvind raised, I have put together the
following statement which represents macroscopic interests and devotes
little space to the minutae of how the policy might be broken down.
Review Board members please vet. Perhaps, at a later stage,
sub-committees can create extensive guidelines from these policies to
provide more specific statements. I tend to agree with Arvind that at
this stage, the policy must reflect a position we take more than
anything else. Here goes.


IndiaPolicy Institute Education Policy Statement, September 1998
________________________________________________________________


By acquiring skills needed to obtain challenging and rewarding
positions, individuals strive to better their economic and social
conditions. The primary purpose of education, therefore, is to help
citizens obtain the requisite skills, so that they may empower and
inform themselves for their personal gain.  Alongside this, education
must also impart a sense of obligation, so that through their education,
students receive not only the abilities to act in the greater interest
of society, but more importantly the willingness to do so.

What role shall government play in achieving these ends? First, it must
be recognized that it is the interest of the people that must guide the
policies formulated and/or enacted by government. To this end,
government must liberalize the learning process so that a fuller
expression of the people's interests is possible. And further to
facilitating this, government shall also provide the organizational
framework needed to ensure that the education system creates a confident
and concerned citizenry.

The interests of the people lie in ensuring that:

(a) everyone has affordable access to the facilities for education

(b) the specific objectives they seek remain within their abilities to
shape and further. Further, that the creativity and enterprise needed to
remain competitive are not stifled.

(c) those who teach our children are competent, and that they
continually strive to keep themselves informed of the latest
developments in their disciplines. Further, that those who serve this
ideal well be recognized for their efforts.

(d) those who are authorized to create policies/standards for these
purposes remain answerable to parents as well as accountable for their
performance to the entire society.

Consistent with the above interests, the following specific policies are
sought to be adopted and/or implemented.

(a) Education shall be among the fundamental rights of all citizens, and
schooling up to graduation from high school or its equivalent shall not
be denied to any citizen.. Further, every school shall be required to
have the basic minimum facilities necessary for good education.

    6% of Gross Domestic Product shall be allocated for education.
School lunch programs be set up to offset poverty's role in continuing
illiteracy. Need-based loans to attend institutions of higher learning
shall be made available.

    The funds allotted a child's education may nevertheless be used for
education in a non-government school.

    Education shall be imparted in languages most appropriate to the
matter being taught. Education in English shall be encouraged in those
disciplines where the competitive interest demands this, and education
in native languages shall be preferred in other disciplines. The
educational policies must take advantage of the languages already known
to the people, to permit the fastest transition to a fully literate
society.

(b) Responsibility for providing education must lie as close to the
people as possible. The states, and not the center, shall bear the
responsibility to provide education. Further, the administration of
school boards and individual schools be elected/appointed by local
governments at the level of panchayats for specific and renewable terms.

    Education by private schools is not only permissible, but
preferable. Despite this, government remains obliged to provide
education in all areas where no private parties are forthcoming to
assume the responsibility.

    All schools, regardless of ownership, shall receive funding from the
government. However, this does not vest government with the power to
manage them in any way. Funds are to be provided to private schools only
so that the obligation to fund every child's education at a minimum
level is met.

    The creation of private universities must be encouraged. This is
necessary not only to ensure creative and dynamic functioning at the
highest levels, but also to enable government to downsize its huge
commitment to higher education in favor of primary education.

    The educational process shall be modified to permit alternate
streams of education. i.e., vocational and technical institutions which
are better suited to teach specific topics than formal schools and
universities should be encouraged. Students in high schools should be
made aware of their options, so that they may make their choices in a
more informed manner.

    The conceptualization and creation of new programs shall be
encouraged. Curricula in all programs shall be reviewed and updated at
specified intervals. Input for this process shall be sought from
industry as much as from academia.

(c) Educators shall be recognized as guardians of the future, and their
compensation shall reflect the responsibility we vest in them. Able
teachers shall be recognized and rewarded in both material and honorable
ways.

    Every opportunity shall be made available for teachers to better
themselves. Programs that facilitate this process shall be encouraged,
and incentives for participating in them shall be established or
encouraged. Standardized teacher education programs shall be set up in
all school districts.

    Educators who rise above the call of duty shall be especially
honored and rewarded. Participation in adult education programs, service
in remote areas with poor track records in education, etc. must be
encouraged.

    A process of repeated assessment be created to ensure that teachers
remain interested in apprising themselves of the latest developments in
their fields. Term-limited appointments which can be reviewed based on
performance shall be preferred to lifetime employment or tenure.

(d) The educational standards that schools be required to maintain shall
be established with the full participation of parents, not merely by the
authority of administrative bodies. Appointments to such
standards-making bodies shall be made by state governments, the center,
local governments, and parents' groups equally.

    The financial conduct of school boards and other entities providing
educational services shall be audited regularly and transparently. All
funds used for education shall be accounted for by those entrusted with
their proper use, and all such information shall be available publicly.

    Panchayats shall appoint supervisors who shall be accountable for
the operation of schools within the jurisdiction of the panchayat.
Contractual appointments shall be made to such supervisory positions.

The enactment and implementation of these policies will achieve the one
objective on which everything else rests, the creation of a society
whose members confidently interact in a democratic setting toward their
own betterment and for that of their fellow-citizens. Ultimately, these
policies will create a citizenry which, acting in its own interest and
retaining control close to it, create and manage the institutions
through which it prepares for a better tomorrow.





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