Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Judiciary and Education

Education is the right of every child away from the boundaries of being rural or urban, rich or poor, marginalized or migrants.  The RTE since its implementation has also made its way through the country. The subject that I wish to share with the readers here pertains to the recent decision taken by Allahabad court which has raised an alarm especially in the clan of government employees. The employees now will have to admit their children in government schools only, failing which the government will extort the same amount that goes as fees of private schools, from their salary. It was so prudent on their part to have thought of such an imposition in the benefit of the children. Undoubtedly, this will improve the deplorable condition of the schools and also enhance the quality of education. Private schools that have seen a boom in the last decade and a half, became the choice of the elite on account of the facilities, quality of education and state-of-the-art infrastructure provided to the learner which further satisfied the parent who readily shelled out the required fee from their pockets. However, the government schools are unable to meet those investments and expenses, hence the deterioration. Kudos to the policies of liberalisation, that the people started withdrawing their wards from government schools to be admitted in private schools, which led to a major reduction in the number of students in government schools. Moreover, people also pondered about the exposure given in private schools that made their children globally more competent and self-reliant. In any case, a parent whether employed with government or private, will want every facility to be extended to his child. As a result these schools flourished and the other schools remained in the era of darkness. The staff too took all the advantage of such a condition of neglect. Absence from school or signing and moving out to complete personal errands, using the resources of the school and taking undue advantage of the same, no teaching spree, are some of the issues that necessitates to be addressed strongly, but the apathy of government is unable to curb and control all this clutter as their coffers remain filled. Consequently, even the rustics now are interested in sending their wards to private schools so that they become akin to the city dwellers. Not forgetting to mention that education bridges the gap, minimizing disparities.
Nevertheless, the persisting nagging question is about the interference of judiciary in this outlandish decision. Unfortunately, in our country the rules are made but never enforced, so the same happen with the above mentioned case and all of it went down the drain. It is relieving to note that the judiciary is concerned about the upliftment of the government school but on the other hand they are also putting the private schools under a strange scrutiny by not allowing them to increase the fee structure along with admissions under RTE being mandatory. This is like burning the candle at both ends, as the private schools do not compromise on the quality of education, infrastructure or facilities and much to their helplessness they also can not increase the fee to meet the recurring expenditures. Hence, there should be some justice for them so that they are able to meet the expenses, maintaining the benchmark.
Another point to ponder is the statutory decision of admission privilege to an RBSE student over a CBSE student by the government of Rajasthan, even when the RBSE one scores much less than the CBSE candidate. Besides that, there is an RBSE quota or reservation in refined terms. The case of a student scoring 86% in stream of humanities in CBSE was denied admission in a state college, whereas an RBSE with 64% was given the admission. This new percentile formula is indeed a blessing in disguise for the Rajasthan board students but has become a curse for the CBSE students. The reported number of admissions has drastically decreased in the colleges of the state as a result and the CBSE students are migrating to other states seeking admission in colleges of repute. This is clearly a case of alienation; a student of the state is not given admission only because he studied in Central Board. Ironically, the text books, curriculum and even the pattern of examination in both the education boards, is just the same. Now when there is no difference here, then why should the state government be so insensitive to the other board students’. The CBSE student is forced to migrate from his own state to the other which is causing brain drain or brain migration. Is it in any case justified? Why should we then expect these students to have empathy, affinity or any connection with the state? It is again a very arbitrary decision on the part of policy makers.
To add to this, the recent decision of some of the newspapers about not highlighting the news of achievements of private school students also has left everyone baffled. Whereas, the achievements of government school students, even if they are trivial, will be highlighted. This discrimination may be uninspiring for those zealous children private school students’ and their accomplishments will lie latent. Though the students will continue to reach their milestones and achieve success but if they are appreciated through a media, it will give them more motivation to seek further success as it will be justified to recognise their honest efforts. The implementation of such drastic decisions have there own implications and oppositions. Education is a fundamental right that can not be denied. Hence, the need of the hour is to bring about an awareness in the citizens who are also the stakeholders to persuade the policy makers for a more suitable path taking into consideration the pros and cons of such impulsive decision which might be challenging for a few, as every parent can not afford an undergraduate degree for his child from another state. There can be many more areas of genuine concern like eradication of illiteracy from the state, social upliftment of the underprivileged, controlling price hike etc; which require greater attention. The teachers and parents can voice their opinion in this regard and prevent the migration of hundreds of genius brains, who will certainly do good for the state.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Respect creation by helping others

A question was asked by somebody about not reacting to something wrong happening around us? But at the same time criticize a lot sitting in the drawing rooms or disparaging during the day. The question was more in reference to specific things happening in the city, state, country or the world. Many examples were cited by the concerned person like an old man wanting to cross the road and not many people bother about the same. Due to an accident somebody got injured and crying for the help and most of the people are in hurry so they do not extend any help. Some people fighting with some body and the onlookers do not intervene. There are thousands of such examples which should make us feel ashamed. This is more so in case of our country and the situation is getting worse day by day leading to rampant hooliganism. There can be a small crowd of 5-10 people and they can spread the ruckus in the area and nobody would react to the situation. We have celebrated 69th independence on 15th August 2015 and paid tribute to the forefathers who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the country. This has been 68 years since independence and the country has progressed a lot in almost all areas of life. The literacy rate has gone up, and in this the participation and contribution of the women has also been quite noteworthy. The number of schools, colleges and universities has gone up manifold. The green revolution and white revolution have helped improving the health of people. The hospitals and industries have grown quite significantly and the country is in the process of becoming the medical destination for the people of world. The roads, rail, air transport has also improved considerably in comparison to the state of affairs at the time of independence. The status of living has gone up for majority and the rate of improvement is picking every year. The youth of the country has got its presence registered and recognized all over the world. The individual contributions have also been significant. Our scientists, mathematicians and entrepreneurs are well known for their intelligence and acumen. Our teachers of the schools and colleges are still considered to be among the best. The people of Indian origin working in other countries are contributing for the country they are living in as well as for their own country. But one area where we seem to have lost track is our strength of togetherness. The concept of first feeding the person living in the neighborhood and then eating self is somewhere forgotten in the process of progressing in other areas. The concept of the people sharing their happiness and the sorrows is eluding now and probably this is the reason some people have realized that our people have become selfish due to which we tend to ignore to react to the problems faced by others.
Our children are born innocent and they imbibe the things happening around them. The adults will have to play a proactive role in changing the mindset and make all happy as far as possible. We all know it so well that if somebody in the family falls sick then he/she is looked after very well. The same should be extended to the people living in the neighborhood and city. If this happens then most of the problems of the society will be solved.
If we can think of ‘We’ and ‘Us’ instead of ‘I’ and ‘Me’ then nobody will be left on the road crying for the help and nobody will sleep hungry around us. Development and progress are vital and unavoidable but at the same time family, society and the nation cannot exist without a balanced blend between these sides of a coin. We must celebrate our progress but at the same time try to help those who need and bring the last person of the society forward so that we all could work together for the benefit of the people because even if one person is left behind that is also a grim facet on the progress sheet of the nation. Planet earth is the most beautiful and happening planet which has given birth to thousand of species and the human beings have been the most intelligent ones, who can think and act in the field of development.
If I talk in context of our country only, there are numerous examples in which it is proved that the people chose the path of pain to make others happy. If an individual feels pained due to some problem to his own then he would definitely react in the similar way in other situation. But the real problem is that many parents have assumed the progress of their kids of getting good marks or the grades in their academic performance. They push the children so much into it that the kids do not get time to interact with the parents, grandparents or any other family member. They are taught not to waste time in sitting with someone who might be sick and just concentrate on their work. The mothers would not let the daughter help her in the kitchen or household work because she wants her to top in the class or in some competitive examination. This may be right on their part because every parent wants his/her child to be relaxed and get more time for studies but they should understand that life skills are also equally important for the kids to learn and the same cannot be taught but imbibed in our day to day life. If the children sit with their grandparents and help them in some way then this makes them to empathize towards elders. One parent told that his son inculcated the habit of reading because in the childhood he used to read the stories to his grandfather who was not well and was not able to move. The child used to fetch glass of water or medicine for him and that made him learn to help the ones in the need of help. Hence, parents should not consider this as the waste of time but a great opportunity of learning the life skills.
Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi very rightly mentioned in his speech that the children have taken the cleanliness campaign more seriously than the adults. They are the ones who check the parents or other people in the family not to litter here and there. The children get confused when they find the adults fighting with each other on almost no issue. They want to be happy and friendly with everyone and we the adults unknowingly teach them something else. Let this planet earth be more beautiful not only with its nature and resources but also with the positive thoughts which we all possess. Let us seek freedom from negative thoughts towards others and that will be the real progress which will help all the people around us. Let the sorrow of my neighbour make me sad so that they do not feel alone when they need us the most. Let us try to think for the society then only for self which will make life more beautiful.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Skilled youth - empowered youth

The Indian government has been debating on the new education policy to be placed in place by making required changes in the existing pattern. The prime minister has been advocating and motivating the citizens and custodians to focus on skill development. The whole purpose of education should be to enable and make people realize their potential and create something new for their own good and the good of the society. The children of the day are exposed to abundance of knowledge and they at times find themselves in difficult situation to decide what to acquire and what to leave. Most of the times the conflicting views are shared by many people with them directly or indirectly. This is healthy to have such views but our children should be skilled enough to understand the difference and what would be good for them. I am of the opinion that the children be exposed to age appropriate challenges of the life and given an opportunity to find the solution themselves with the indirect support of the adults wherever needed. This can be achieved with some efforts on the part of the teachers and the parents. The government and the educational bodies will have to play more active and considerably significant role in this. Skill development would not mean by marks or the grades obtained by the students in the examination but to develop all faculties of one’s personality. In this the schools should take the responsibility of making children intelligent not only academically but emotionally as well. Emotional intelligence has been an important subject in the last four- five decades but now seems to be left behind in the race of artificial intelligence. Indian history has been full of the stories of the music, dance and art work. All the kings and rulers were the enthusiast promoter of such performing arts and skills required for that. They promoted this not only for their interest in such things but also because they found themselves relaxed by getting exposed to such arts and better prepared to perform their duty of ruling the states more effectively than what they could have done otherwise. The most cruel or hated kings were also fond of such art and most of them promoted such skills in their own way.
I have written all this to construct my point that skill development should not be linked directly with the idea that it would enable a person to earn but also make him happy and better prepared to perform the acts which will enable him to earn more for self and the family. When a person is relaxed and happy, then the possibility of achieving something new is more. These performing art skills definitely help people relax and that is why such things should be given same importance and preference in the schools as academic subjects are given. The parents must also realize that they do not force children with books and notebooks only but allow and motivate them to pursue the skills and the art of their choice. The performing art skills will help the children learn the habit of creating new things and new ideas. When I say that these skills are very important that does not mean that other skills are not so but my intention is that these skills will lead to learning and performing other skills more effectively and in a better way. The children should be taught that these subjects are not forced upon them to obtain some grade in the progress report of the schools or the colleges but enable to become more confident and creative person who will be skilled to do something new in future. We learn multiple skills in the schools which is fondly termed as multiple intelligence and that should be explored as much as possible by the parents and the teachers.
The schools should ensure to develop these faculties and the teachers teaching music, arts, theater, health and physical education should be given the same type of treatment and respect as the teachers teaching physics, history or any other such subject. In India many people consider such teachers as activity teachers which place them some way in a different category than the subject teachers. Though in the last few decades the things have changed for the good but still a lot is to be done if we have to realize the vision of the prime minister to have skilled youth, enabled to exploit his potential to the maximum. The skilled youth will be equipped with all the knowledge required to face the challenges of the future. We should try to understand the overlapping in the meaning of the two words ‘skill’ and ‘vocational’. Skill will definitely enable a person to be vocationally trained but vocational training alone may not lead to skill meaning thereby skill definitely leads to vocational competences but vice versa may not be necessarily true. This also shows the importance of skills and a very thin line of difference between the two words, skill and vocation. Unfortunately, we still find many teachers and parents telling children that they were wasting their time which is heart breaking to the children and in the process the adults have deprived the world of the wonderful things which such children would have enjoyed in their life. The children who spend some time on doing things of their choice tend to perform better in those areas also in which they might not have been good or comfortable. The performing arts, games and sports must be given due importance and place in the school curriculum so that the children do not need specialized skill training programs and they come out of the schools and college with their skills thoroughly developed. The teachers who teach such subjects should also be given the same kind of respect and opportunities as other teachers in the institution (this is happening in many institutions now). The physical education teachers should not limit themselves to have been playing only the ‘discipline In charge’ role. They can teach the skills of surviving in difficult situations and take victory or defeat in the same manner. The children do not get depressed very soon and their participation and involvement in games and sports would make them stronger not only physically but also mentally and emotionally, which is very important particularly in today`s world of tough competition.   

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Real Tribute

Sudden demise of one of the greatest sons of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has left everyone in the country stunned and nobody initially believed it except the doctors who treated him at the close of his life without any successful result. A lot has been written about him after that and people are coming to terms with this great loss to all of them. The fact is that everyone will have to leave this body and find some other place and make the place for others to carry forward their legacy. I would not be talking about what he did successfully in spite of very difficult circumstances without any complain, but the most important thing is that he has proved that the person who faces difficulty in life gets better prepared to face the challenges of life. By and large this seems to be true that the ones who had very little to be comfortable could achieve more than the ones who had enough because they understood the importance of the things not possessed or achieved by them. Many of us curse ourselves for having born in the families with little means but that can be taken as a challenge which would motivate an individual to work harder than others. Dr Kalam advocated that the holidays are not good and these should be avoided as much as possible. He was the one who would not have liked the parliament to remain off for two or three days (though this was not functioning otherwise also). Unfortunately, many of us consider the mourning by not working meaning thereby remaining off from the work and getting a particular day declared as holiday. As it usually happens in the schools in Rajasthan (may be in other parts of the country also), had a difficulty in deciding about whether the next day would be a holiday or not. This confusion prevailed in Jodhpur also. The parents were calling the schools and the newspaper offices to know whether a holiday was declared or not. In the middle of the same, one prominent channel (regional) flashed a news that government of Rajasthan had declared the next day as holiday. Print media was not sure and they were to get correct information from the officers concerned. As they got the confirmation from one officer, they conveyed the same to the parents and the schools whoever approached them and many private schools declared the next day as the holiday (Private schools were more concerned because of the parents queries and fear of being given a showcase notice if holiday was not declared). The next day, one of the prominent newspapers gave the news that schools of Jodhpur will remain closed while the other mentioned that there was no holiday. The truth was that no holiday was declared by the government. I raised this point because of the reason that the same kind of confusion had been there before also. The question is - why shouldn't there be a uniform policy on this issue so that people remember the departed soul and talk about the good work done by them than worrying about whether there would be a holiday or not? The government should take a call on this and let us make sure that the sad demise of our great leaders, scientists and other dignitaries should not be declared a holiday, rather pay them our homage by walking an extra mile so that their soul rest in peace with contentment of having inspired people to work hard. If we analyze, then we will find that our country has the distinction of being one of those few countries which have maximum number of holidays.
So, today I shall emphasize upon two things, that the ones who have not been fortunate of having being born in the so called good or affluent family must stop cursing themselves because if the same was done by Dr Kalam, he would not have achieved what he could. This he could do because he was always positive in his approach towards life. He never blamed or criticized anybody for his failure rather himself and took up the task with greater enthusiasm. His positive thoughts were, are and will remain like a fountain of immortal drink and a source of inspiration to all across the country and the globe. Dr Kalam was very sure that the human resource of the country was capable of leading the human race for a better future. The positive radiation which he left with all of us should be a guiding light for achieving the dreams of being the developed nation by 2020 as he used to say with conviction and confidence. The youth of the country has been a great fan and follower of Dr Kalam and we owe the tremendous responsibility of letting them explore all possible opportunities to realize the dreams of Dr Kalam as their own. This will be the real tribute to him.
The second important point which I want to make here is that the children from so called poor family background must remember him and ensure that the economic or social deficit do not come in their way and hinder the path of their success. They have the same potential and capacity as any other child in the world and the only thing they should remember is that innumerable possibilities of success are waiting for them. The children who are born in the families which are considered affluent should also learn a lesson that they would not be able to achieve great heights just by that reason only but due to their hard work. If we remember Mahatma Budh, Mahavir and Mahatma Gandhi today, it is because he gave up all the wealth and lived his life as an ordinary person and achieved what he could not have by remaining the king of a state or so. I do not mean to say that belonging to an affluent family is always a hindrance but many of our children make it to appear so. Many parents from affluent families also do not expose their children to difficult situations. When they do so they deprive their children from wonderful opportunities of realizing their own worth which may not let them expand their wings to explore the world to the fullest.
We appreciated and will remember Dr Kalam to have achieved what he did because he did this all by himself and not because of the family background or support. Every child born in this country is equally important and has the potential to achieve great heights if there is a will and Dr Kalam's words will always motivate them and he will be an ideal to the generations to come. We pay our sincere gratitude to this great man and contribute our bit for the progress of this country of his dreams.
We should also debate on the number of holidays and nature of holidays to be observed in the country so that maximum time could be availed to achieve the dreams of our exemplary ancestors.