Thank you for your observations on my article on Right to Education.
I think there are some impressions about the implications of the Common School System (CSS) due to lack of familiarity with the evolving discourse. The uniformity and rigidity of curriculum is the hallmark of today's education system operating under CBSE, ICSE or the State Boards of Education. CSS rejects this lack of flexibility, diversity and creativity on philosophical grounds. Indeed, as you say, no school system can meet the needs of all children of India unless it can respond to the rich diversity we have and the creative individuality of each child. The CSS is designed to move towards this objective.
CSS would never reject the contribution of the private school but would include them in the system. However, CSS requires that each private school fulfills its obligations under the Constitution and its duty to the nation and the society.
Yet, the role of the State as the major provider of education can't be replaced by the private capital. In December 2007, Prof. Amartya Sen told CII precisely this since no private enterprise, not even all of them put together, can match the requirement of resources for this purpose. In all the G-8 countries, the government has historically played this role and the publicly funded school system remains the major source of education. In France, Germany and Japan, the State is almost the only source. The private school, at best, can be a supplementary source.
Sanjay ji, please pardon me, your paras 3, 4 and 5 are problematic. Let me, for a moment, keep aside my ideological perception of equality as the very foundation of public welfare, progress and peace for a moment. History bears testimony to this principle. We can discuss this later. However, your doubts regarding the validity of the concept of 'Right to Free Education' and 'Right to Early Childhood Care' and let 'government [can] decide its course of action depending on its competence or resources' will require us to re-write India's Constitution, not merely to amend it. Your ideas in a very fundamental sense challenge the structure and the premises on which the Constitution stands. I would further contend that if we accept your implied thesis, India will fail to provide education to its masses, as it has until to date.
Regarding Sweden's recent experiment with school vouchers, it would suffice to say that this idea has not worked in most of the countries or cities where it was tested unless there was a relatively level playing field (socio-economically) for all or most of the population. The conditions in India are contrary to Sweden's conditions and do not provide any rational for even testing this idea, let alone implementing it on a pilot scale. Interestingly, there is a sharp debate going on in the US between Obama and McCain on the school vouchers. It can be accessed on the internet.
There are several other important issues raised in your emails. But I would rather stop here for the moment and refer you to two essays: first one by me being published in a book and the second one by an American professor on the historic role played by the publicly funded school system in building nation-states and citizenship in Europe and North America. I would like to believe that you might find answers to some of your questions and doubts, if not all.
We can continue our dialogue.
Cc.: Dr. VN Sharma.
From Sanjay Jadhav, IIT Global Renewable Energy Group
I refer to your attached message and my response is as follows. I and Mr. V Ranganathan are scholars of infrastructure and management. Therefore there could be marked similarity in our thinking.
(1)There are many incidences in past and this time it is no exception, that government is trying to negate the court interpretations of constitution, by amending constitution. I am with you to support in protesting such callous actions of the state. The amendment "in such manner as the state may by law determine" should be discouraged with best of our ability.
(2)I disagree that government and only government should provide education.Also I do not share that the education should be of identical quality. In my opinion, if 2 humans are different, the learning results of education system – whether government owned or not – irrespective of their honest efforts would be different. While there is no justification for inferior education, attempt for identical quality will be at best be fascism.
I will like to add that if education in Bihar, Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh suffers due to their incompetence, the people of Maharashtra can not be made to suffer with identically bad quality in Maharashtra. The taxpayers ofMaharashtra should not be made to pay for their incompetence. Your complain about neo-liberal motives appears unjustified for whatever lofty goals on your mind.
(3)I do not share the view that "free education" is right, leave alone fundamental. Prof. Rangarajan seem to agree with me.
(4)I would suggest that government can decide its course of action depending on its competence or resources. But constitutional amendment for diluting the right on education should be discouraged. If government can not do its duty, it should go to the public and plead about its helplessness/ incompetence. It should either seek their additional support or allow public to share their responsibility.
(5)I find right early childhood care unjustified, except for access and availability to healthcare. There is also opportunity for creating crèche for children, but certainly not by taxpayers expenses.
(6)Common school system is neither necessary not required for sense of common citizenship. Egalitarian society is not the goal of society. Equity of income or wealth is very intrusive, very exploitative. It is not even necessary.
(7)Your concern for education of the differently abled children is justified. I agree with you.
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