We Must Unite For Education

We Must Unite For Education

Private institutions exploiting helpless masses, government regulation and parental awareness urgently needed

Education is, without any doubt, the real cure for the age-old maladies present in backward societies. It is the only medium that can truly differentiate civilized society from barbarians. That is why great philosophers and thinkers emphasized education and stressed a state-controlled system of education. For example, Plato knew the importance of unbiased and equitable education for everyone and said, “If the state is unable to provide education to everyone, it hardly matters what else it does.”
History is witness to the fact that only those nations have progressed and developed which were successful in creating equitable, judicious, and robust educational systems for their citizens.
In India, The Right to Education Act 2009 was a laudable step towards making education available and accessible to all, including the weaker sections of the country. This Act makes it obligatory on the part of the government to ensure admission, attendance, and completion of elementary education by all children falling in the age group of six to fourteen years. Essentially, this Act ensures free elementary education to all children in the country, particularly benefiting economically weaker sections of society.
However, the mafia-style tactics employed by some private educational institutions are hindering the proper growth of education in our country. Many of these institutions are turning education into mere business ventures. Their sole aim seems to be earning wealth by exploiting helpless masses in the name of quality education.
The government has taken many laudable steps to curb this menace. It prohibited private institutions from charging hefty admission fees from parents. However, many parents blame these institutions for charging them in the name of annual charges, building fees, and many other fees. Although the government has allowed private institutions to charge annual fees and other necessary fees, they must refrain from charging amounts that go against the very basic rights of citizens.
Recently, the government of Jammu and Kashmir issued an order stating that all private institutions must implement the government curriculum in all schools, and only those books published by the board of school education will be taught. However, many people believe that these government-prescribed books, particularly for primary classes, are below standard. The availability of these books is another grave issue that the government must address. The shortage of these books at the ground level at the beginning of each new session makes it hard to inspire parents to select these books. These books reach students in government schools only after half the session is already over, raising questions about the entire education system controlled by the government.
The Private School Association also claims that the quality of the books published by the board of school education is below standard. However, this association has failed to establish a common curriculum for all private institutions under its tutelage. Every school has set up its own kingdom and its own set of rules, forcing parents to buy costly books without proper management to check this menace or at least the quality of the contents in these books. Even if the quality of these books is better than those published by the board of school education, it is the duty of the government itself to regulate the prices of these books so that the common masses do not suffer.
Some private institutions conduct screenings before admitting students, and only after rigorous testing do they consider admitting them. The government of Jammu and Kashmir ruled that every student must be admitted to their age-appropriate class. However, these institutions do not hesitate to demote students based on their performance in the so-called screening tests. This is a gross violation of government orders and the fundamental rights of citizens.
Even after charging hefty fees from parents, some private institutions pay very low wages to their employees. Private school teachers are the most exploited lot in our valley, enduring everyday drudgery for a meager sum of a few thousand rupees. This exploitation of teachers affects the education of students in these institutions.
Parents should become more aware of their rights. One of the most unfortunate realities of our society is that parents are least aware of their rights. They hardly know the importance of raising their voices properly. The most important reason for the poor performance of government institutions is their lack of proper accommodation. Most of our middle schools in villages are functioning with poor and very poor accommodation facilities. Better education cannot be expected when more than eight classes have to be accommodated in only two rooms. This is sheer mockery of the entire education system. Parents must learn to raise their voices properly to force the government to provide better accommodation for their children in every village. They have every right to provide better education to their children, but that does not mean they let themselves be exploited by these so-called better institutions. When parents raise their voices demanding better facilities for their children in government institutions, they will be able to save their hard-earned money, and when they learn to hold everyone responsible from top to bottom, we shall witness a real revolution in the entire education system.
However, the problem of mere show-off is the main hindrance that forces our lower-middle-class and even poor parents to send their children to these costly institutions. Parents join the rat race of choosing more and more costly institutions to satisfy their egos. Those who cannot afford costly education must learn to use government facilities and institutions properly. Nowadays, government schools are launching enrollment drives throughout the valley. It is the proper time for parents to come forward, strengthen these public institutions, and make them more responsible for the betterment of society.
Private as well as government institutions should work hand in hand without any confrontation to provide better education to our younger generations. Competition on fair grounds would always be beneficial for society. However, confrontation and fraudulent methods will only be poisonous in the long run. All institutions and their organizers must work for the betterment of society at large and must not see education only as a job or money-making industry. Parents, teachers, students, media, and different institutions must unite to provide better education to our younger generations, which is the sole guarantee for our better future.

The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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