Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Cherished Dream, Common School System: What is to be done?

-By Mormukut Suman

The concept of Common School System (CSS) also called a neighborhood school, was advocated in post civil war as a ‘right’ and institutionalized in the early 1900s. Common School System (CSS) may be a new concept for India, but it’s not a new over the world. It has been operating successfully in Cuba, USA, UK, China and Russia. Let us clear what is the concept of common school system. The CSS was introduced by the Kothari Education Commission constituted in 1964. The Commission said CSS is a tool for social transformation. It will weaken the disparity and inequality in education as well as destroys all the discriminatory walls created by caste, creed, class and social economic status or gender bias prevalent in our education system.

In India, there has been a fundamental difference between poor and medium-elite student’s education .Elite-medium class send their children to convent schools, while poor are unable to pay high fees demanded by elite schools. The present disparity prevalent in education system widens the social segregation instead of bridging it. I came across the real situation of school education when I visited one primary school, situated in Mathura. It is a truism to say that most government-owned schools are still in same in condition they were thirty years ago. To say nothing about sanitation services which are non-existent. When teachers do not come regularly to school, we can imagine what student attendance is. Regrettably this is the real situation of this school.
If CSS had been implemented, it could have changed the very face of the school education in rural areas and urban slums. Fifty percent of school children drop out of schools before completing eight years in school. Most of these students belong to dalit or adivasis communities. The CSS guaranties equity in education as well as job opportunities. The notion CSS refers to a state-financed common quality education. The CSS will open the window to access to quality education depending on talent rather than wealth or class. Education will be free for every student, no tuition fee is charged.

The parliament tried to implement it unsuccessfully not only once but thrice in 1964, 1986, 1991. Lack of commitment and serious concern over the CSS stalled the Bill and indicated clearly the government‘s apathy towards the CSS. The Government wants to keep the education system unchanged, where marginalized or poor masses are not able to get quality education among them most of people are from dalit-adivasis community.
The CSS will fit well in our secular setup, where many languages are spoken and religions exist. Democracy requires a common school system. The CSS not only democratizes the education system but is also a significant tool to social transformation. The CSS will provide an opportunity to such students who are unable to pay high fees and send their children to schools. The Kothari Commission recommends the CSS to utilize 6 % expenditure of GDP on education. Unfortunately no government spent more than 3% of GDP on education. The government has been spending 2.5 % of the GDP on defense sector. Recently Man Mohan Singh’s government has increased the defense budget 77,000 to 83,000 crore.

In 1986 government woke up and constituted Acharya Rammurthi Committee to find out reasons which are responsible for not passing CSS Bill. The Committee says that the variations among masses and classes highly deep rooted. The social segregation is much prevalent in our society, leading them to hate each other or even sometimes fighting on pretty issues. In such a situation the CSS can not be imposed. The elite class sends their children where they can get quality education by well educated professional teachers. However, it did not mention caste or religion based discrimination, which is the main the hindrance to CSS. The second problem he highlighted is constitutional. According to the constitution, minorities have been given the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions, which is against the spirit of the CSS. Further, he blamed the government itself for establishing a few separate schools such as Sainik schools, Navodaya Vidyalayas, or Center School, which are against the democratic spirit. Few separate schools or institution for a separate class is not democratic. It is a governmental duty to provide elementary education to all students for 14 years.

The fourth reason, the committee attributed to private managed English medium schools, charging high fees and having expensive coaching and better infrastructure. Private sector schools in India are nothing but an affluent business. It is true to say that these private schools are teaching shops running in two to ten rooms. During the NDA rule, thousands of business, engineering and medical colleges along with a lot of professional institutions came into existence. The presence of private schools clearly indicates that the government has failed to provide education to all. Today, integrating private schools into CCS has become a far flung dream.
These schools have emerged over the past fifteen years as an instrument for social segregation rather than integration.Recently the Supreme Court directed all public funded private schools who got land from government on charity basis to ensure 10% reservation for weaker community students. Most of schools including, DPS (Delhi Public School) defied the decision saying that it is not practical. What they wanted to say that how can a rickshaw puller boy sit with an IAS officer’s son on same bench? So they started evening class for such students.It’s the need of hour to implement CCS as soon as possible, lest we face a more vulnerable state that can’t be managed.

[Mormukut Suman is pursuing his PG Diploma in Hindi Journalism IIMC, Delhi]


At 2:57 PM, Blogger bharti sharma said...

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