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- One killed, 17 students injured in school van-tanker collision
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- Development our only agenda: PM tells Karnataka BJP workers
- 13 children killed as train hits school van at unmanned crossing
Education reforms: Bed of thorns
Change or innovation in the education sector should not be introduced in hurry. Change impacts a large number of students and if it is not well thought out, it may lead to negative disruption. Examination reforms should be debated and considered well before being introduced
Our girls have made the country proud at the Commonwealth Games 2018 at Gold Coast, Queensland. India’s performance is worth rejoicing, especially as the girls, who are often described as the doll behind the veil, stole the show. However, the Gold Coast win was marred by a string of rape incidents reported from different parts of the country. A survey of news reports and television discussions will reveal that rape cases took the sheen off the win.
It isn’t surprising that the media has the obvious intention of creating a sensation to grab attention but as citizens, we need to prioritise. The evil that men do lives after them, and the good is often buried. Media and experts are crying hoarse that the Prime Minister’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has remained a jumla and we have failed to promote our daughters.
I do not intend to analyse India’s performance at the CWG or the rape cases, but I will examine the sequence of events at the CBSE which has been in the news in the recent past for all the wrong reasons. CBSE’s reputation has dipped, perhaps to its lowest, thanks to media reports. The fact of the matter is that the CBSE has taken many reformative steps in recent past and this is bound to irk some established institutions and their owners. After the Ryan school murder case, the CBSE cracked whip and issued guidelines to ensure the safety of children. More safety would mean more employees and more expenditure. Why would schools like to do it? They are bound to be unhappy with the CBSE.
In a bid to promote NCERT text books, the Government made NCERT books mandatory for CBSE-affiliated schools and also issued directive to this effect. Textbook publishing is a big business. Publishers have the strength to topple Governments. We will have to watch when will they bounce back.
Similarly, Anil Swarup, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literary, has been promoting students-to-students contact between students of Kashmir and the rest of India. Kashmiri jihadis are not appreciative of this move and will hit back at some point. Yet another move to introduce morning Yoga classes is schools, to increase vitamin D intake among young learners which has been a major reason for poor health of the youth, has hit the pharmaceutical industry. They too will be critical of the initiative. People of the country and the Government will have to be patient till the outcome of the initiatives is visible.
This year, the Yogi Government took some bold moves to clamp down on cheating. This had to have its impact on the CBSE examination. Resultantly, a majority of students dropped. Similar stringent measures were taken when Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh sustained the pressure. We will have to wait and watch whether Yogi Adityanath will be able to sustain the same. Similarly, we will have to wait and watch if the CBSE Chairperson; Secretary, School Education; as also the HRD Minister will be able to withstand pressure.
We have been rather soft than being callous with the schooling process in the past. Instead of pursuing painful reforms, we did away with many crucial schooling processes. We made the Class X board examination optional; we made no-detention till class VIII; we introduced Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) without any preparation; and the list is long. The less educated parents rejoiced as their children could reach Class XII without any serious studies.
Teachers were put under pressure if they tried to infuse quality parameters for augmenting learning. Ultimately, they gave up. They also let the children be in school without making any effort to make them learn as the society as well as the system did not want to take the pain. Learning is directly proportional to effort made. Efforts have to be made by the learner himself. The teacher can be only a catalytic agent. They can help children of other parents learn only if the parents and the society support them. Teacher bashing has become a favourite national past-time. This must end.
Reversing such soft decisions will obviously have a fallout from all stakeholders. This is an election year so political parties will also not like to lose an opportunity to politicise any incident. The choice is with Prakash Javadekar whether he will like to be politically correct or true to his assignment. History will analyse, as we keep referring to Kalyan Singh as a reformer. Our examining bodies are in bad shape and definitely in the hands of mafia. He will have to be ready to bear the brunt and stand by the lieutenants who take up the reform agenda.
The CCE was introduced without any consultation being made with teachers and without adequate preparation because the Western nations, especially Australia, had CCE. We were somehow much influenced by the Australian practices during that period. The fate of CCE is for all to see. Change or innovation in the education sector should not be introduced in a jiffy. Changes impact large number of students and if it is not well researched, it may lead to massive hue and cry. Examination reforms should be debated and considered well before being introduced.
Girls are being given their due but the men are not comfortable. Educated mafia stoops to create leak scandal, the illiterate stoops to acts like rape. With Anita Karwal as the Chairperson of the CBSE, we must give her chance. The Minister for HRD is determined to cleanse the system and the team of School Education at the MHRD is working hard to eradicate the rot. We lose patience and get swayed by media reports. This shakes confidence. If we want a strong India by 2025, we should watch without losing patience and the media must not analyse with the intention to create juicy news but with the view to support the reformers.
(The writer is Professor of Education at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal)
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