By Sheikh Maqbool
Today, due to commercialisation and the quest for profit making , education is not only becoming costly but more insidious damage is done due to the deterioration of the educational environment , the ideology of teaching and learning , the spirit of cultivation of knowledge. The GATS, in an institution, views the investor as the producer, the teacher as the facilitator and the students as consumers. According to the definition of GATS, while the investors are producers of education, the teachers in an institution are facilitators, that is, virtually salesmen appointed by authorities. A new method is found in appointment of guest lectures at a paltry sum per lecture basis. The authorities find further advantages with these part time or guest lecturers, since there is no rigid commitment towards service condition of these teachers.
Thus, even without spelling out the term, teachers are virtually being reduced to labours on contract. (With this is added introduction of differential remuneration for teachers akin to salary based differentiation among teachers within the same department by rating their performance as in a private limited company)
A fresh ambush was laid in less than another decade in 2001 where the Government launched a new scheme for primary education entitled (SSA). Claimed as a “flagship programme “ to universalise primary education funded by the World Bank, under cover of the deceptive slogan that people must be empowered to own their schools, the SSA fund provided by the government was meeting requirements of schools and appointing permanent teachers. But, yet again slogans of the same proved to be hollow, as the curtailment of budgetary allocation from the Central Government and state government pushed teachers every day towards protests, lockout of schools and so on. What a humiliating plight and condition to which teachers are being pushed! They will have to virtually appease the students to manage their salary. This will be detrimental to the teaching profession because it will lead to awkward professional competition, jealousy and ego-clashes among teachers.
Politicking politics by the authorities has degenerated the educational environment so much that many shameful and unbelievable incidents are occurring. The realization of free universal education up to the highest level and with democratic secular, scientific content, even after a series of so-called reforms thus remains a pipedream. Similarly, no comprehensive policy of education genuinely for people at large has been framed, despite the importance of education for the masses. To this end, intense knowledgeable mass movement has to be built up. The Jammu and Kashmir RTI foundation stands for it.
—The writer is chief spokesperson of J and K RTI Foundation and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org