I am not too fond of children. I would rather they stay at other people’s homes. Yet even I agree that all children should be given education, which will give them an opportunity to explore possibilities in their lives in future.
For the government saddled with various issues, education is the softest one because there is no controversy or opposition attached to it. All CSOs, citizens, officials, media, world are on the same platform. Yet it took the government more than 60 years to get it right.
The SC’s upholding of 25% reservation of seats across all schools under RTE (Right to Education Act) is being touted as historic by many and is also being seen as ‘the great leveler’. I am going to take a lot of flak from many people for saying this – but forcing 25% reservation in all schools for economically and socially poor students will not lead to equality.
Social and economic equality as far as I see, exists in a utopian world....in the world of Any Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and not in the current world as we know it. There will always be rich and poor, intelligent and dumb, smart and lazy, powerful and marginalised people. Forcing one on the other in order to gain equality on paper is so not equal or even fair. All idealistic Communist countries have also failed terribly in this aspect.
Like Gandhi calling untouchables Harijan, like reserving jobs for SCs and STs, even this might lead to more widening of the gap than before (apart from creating monetary and social peer pressures on both sides). And though this seems like a good excuse for the government to shrug off responsibility in the urban areas, what about creating opportunity of good education for children in rural India where most villages have access to only government schools? And what about the rest of the 75% in urban areas?
I have been to government schools in Mumbai where Std 8 students have told me that all living beings live ‘inside’ the Earth. So when a rocket is set off, the Earth parts and it goes into the sky! I have heard teachers explain to the students that only one Emperor Penguin lays an egg and the rest huddles to give that egg warmth!
Like all great laws of India, the RTE (Right to Education) also seems excellent on paper and has the possibility of turning things around if implemented correctly. But with school teachers who cannot spell BLACK, the future of the children with or without RTE does not seem too bright and with that the future of the country too.
Because half education I feel is far more dangerous than no education at all.