From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RTE, New Education Policy
Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of pandemic on education of the poor
The article highlights the issue of the decrease in allocation for education and two ways in which the government seeks to plug this gap.
Decrease in allocation to education: Two paradoxical axes
- The government allocated Rs 6,000 crore less on education in Budget 2021 as compared to last year.
- It’s strange that this year’s budget makes no reference to the pandemic and the multiple challenges it has thrown up for the poor.
- Parents who depend on the lowest rung of free government schools are the ones who need maximum state support.
- More recently, the state’s position with regard to the provision of education in general and budgetary allocations to education in particular hinges on two paradoxical axes.
1) Supporting community volunteer
- On one axis, is its appreciation of the commitment and passion of the community volunteers to reach out to children who may not be learning for multiple reasons.
- Acknowledging the contribution of such people, the NEP proposes ideas of “peer-tutoring and trained volunteers” to support teachers to impart foundational literacy and numeracy skills to children in need of such skills.
- While such efforts need to be applauded, they cannot be regarded as substitutes of the formal state apparatus.
- Such a view also de-legitimises the teaching profession-associated qualifications and the training mandated by the state for people to become teachers.
- Salaries and working conditions of the local community, most of whom are unemployed youth and women, are often compromised.
- This is exploitation and needless to say, it also impacts the quality of education for the poor.
2) Public-Private partnership and issues with it
- On the second axis, is the position advocating partnerships between public and private bodies.
- Not that the involvement of private individuals/organisations/schools in education is anything new in India.
- However, in the past, private schools catered to the relatively better-off but now the poor are being targeted for profit.
- This narrative is based on two sources: Poor learning outcomes of children, particularly those studying in government schools as reported by large scale assessment surveys, and large-scale absenteeism/dereliction of duty on the part of government school teachers.
- Reasons for these are attributed to government school teachers having no accountability.
- NEP 2020 also states that the non-governmental philanthropic organisations will be supported to build schools and alternative models of education will be encouraged by making their requirements for schools as mandated in the RTE less restrictive.
- This is clearly problematic but convenient as the justification underlying this position is that one needs to shift focus from inputs to outputs.
- This also indicate that schools can do with lesser financial resources, and compromised inputs may not necessarily lead to compromised outputs.
- The nature of the partnership between public and private has also changed from the private supporting the public to private jostling for space with the public, even replacing them.
- It’s a win-win situation for both — the state gets to spend less and private players make profit.
Consider the question “Examine the impact of a covid pandemic on the education of the poor. Suggest the measure need to be taken by the government to mitigate the impact.”
While money may not ensure quality education, lack of adequate resources will only deepen the social divide between people.