It has been a week. Feels like a million years already. While grind through the grind of college education, one is not particularly inclined to think about the after effects. There was no time. It was always projects, travel, chatting and talking for long hours on the phone, having fun. No, not always. If it was so routinely, i would not be feeling so nostalgic.
I had to pinch myself to realize that graduation was over, well at least grad exams were over. But the feeling anticipated was not in place. Why ? It finally dawned on me when my friend DG screamed at the top of her voice over the phone- YIPEEEEEEE ! As they say, those who hear hard, need a boom to awaken.
The Macbride report (UNESCO) stated this in 1980- Education should not be left to chance. The Indian Government has not woken up yet. 31 years on Macbride, people like me feel privileged enough to become graduates. Further education is on the cards, but what about million other kids that i see on streets everyday, in tea shops, clothes stores. Why aren’t they studying, enriching their brains and reaping fruits of education ? The Indian union budget started levying 2 % education cess in the year 2004 when it was presented by noted economist Mr. P. Chidambaram. This was later increased to 3 %. All taxes in India are subject to an education cess, which is 3% of the total tax payable. The dropout rates at primary level alone are very high. More girls cease to attend school at primary level. Also prejudices on ed-ed schooling and girls being taught by males post puberty still exist. The right to education became a fundamental right in India only in 2002. For 55 years after independence, education existed in the form of a directive principle, a mere duty which was not as enforcible as a fundamental rights.
Lack of reinforcement measures and infrastructure result in neo literates, as they do not get further impetus for education. Neo literates have fragile levels of literacy. Majority of neo-literatesare economically poor and live in ruralareas or urban slums. A major bulk of the literate population are actually semi literates who could not continue education for various reasons beyond 5th-8th grade.
As of Census 2011, the overall literacy levels in India is 74.04 % (Males 82.14 %, Females 65.46 %). The definition of literacy by National Literacy Mission (program by Government of India) concerns- acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one’s day-to-day life. It negates the presence of awareness education, rational thinking. The prescribed aims are meant to be enforced at a basic level.
A vast expanse of land, India is a logistical challenge when it comes to formulating an overall plan for implementing education programs. The government ads that i see on Television are more agriculture based, promoting agricultural training and consumer awareness. How can government ads promise to have any effect when they themselves show women in a domestic way, domestic attire, wearing ghunghat over the head and bearing children ? What more, Indian parliament was a center of much drama last year when the Lok Sabha (Lower House) erupted with a strng demand for enumerating backward classes as part of census. It called for conducting a cast based census, something which the founding fathers of the constitution weeded out first when they were formulating it. Virtually every political party demanded it, from Akali Dal to Shiv Sena to AIADMK to DMK, not to mention backward outfits of UP-Bihar — RJD, SP and JD(U). The present Government seems to be intent on negating everything that the basic essence of Constitution stood for- anti corruption, equality and progress.
But all is not wrong. There are education programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Literacy Mission, Mid day meal scheme which are making great efforts to bring children to schools, tap growing drop out rates and offering benefits for higher education. Community and Non governmental efforts have made great progress in creating awareness at grass root level. the Indian Government ensures free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14. However many of the promises made by these programs have not achieved their promised levels.
What is needed in India is a comprehensive education policy that emphasizes on tertiary involvement in education. Also informal education, radio and Tv as a medium should take precedence over formal schooling methods. Infrastructure dedicated exclusively for the purpose of education should be made available all over India. many a times community halls in villages double up as schools and children are driven away from schools if thers is a function/activity in th community halls.
Speaking of holidays, it has become an excessively neurotic, gratifying medium. We have Diwali holidays, summer holidays, Navratra holidays, Eid Holidays, Christmas and easter vacations, bank and national holidays, accidential holidays (on days when there are floods or some random natural disasters), and a million other days. It is possible to exhaust one’s work capability but the excuses for declaring holidays are abundant,.
We are not setting a very great examples by having such low productivity hours. There are celebratory holidays for World cup matches too. India has a long way to go to progress in the field of education. We ned not just policies but the right attitude too. Education should not be left to chance.
As for me, the feeling sunk in 2 days after exams got over, the feeling of nostalgia and old memories still lingers in the air.