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India The New Caste System Of Free India

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
May 15, 2011

The new caste system of free India

Sunday, May 15, 2011
By Ashok Nanda

The enactment of Right to Education Act, 2009 has generated a nation-wide debate on the school and mass education. There are various aspects of this act which needs a proper discussion and debate. One needs to see how relevant this act is in the context of Odisha. More than this, one should also see the present condition of the school education system prevailing in Odisha as well as in India to understand the effectiveness of the education reforms.

No doubt, education is key to individual and societal prosperity. Education includes development of all human faculties like logic, memory, emotions, behavioural patterns, cultural and aesthetic faculties, perceptions and values. Knowledge, skill and attitudes carry the society forward or backward.
A society will be a cohesive one and be in harmony when it helps individuals to maximise their capacities and creates opportunity for them to utilise their talents. But when a society promotes inherent inequalities, it is bound to meet serious social holocaust.

Why should a young man feel grateful to the society or the nation when it has no significant contribution in making him? When the growing adult feels that he is what he is, because of his parents, then he will be provoked to think of his family only. When he realises that he is down trodden because his poor parents could not provide him good opportunities to improve his knowledge and skills, he will rather develop a grudge against the society. He cannot accept that someone is a doctor or an engineer because his parents were rich. He will have hatred towards a decadent society which worked for hereditary elitism controlled through HRD systems.

In decent communities , the government provides quality and free education to all children according to their needs and capacities. In fact, responsible governments enforce its universal application. We need to see the kind of education system the advanced countries have and a comparative study is required to understand the education system in the global context.

In France, kids from the age of two and half years have access to free Early Childhood Education Centres close to the child’s house. Then, they go to primary schools for five years. The upper primary education is for four years after which one has to face a national examination. The marks play a significant role in entering into choice of high schools which is for three years. Most schools provide education free of cost.

The private schools may charge a nominal amount for extra services. But most schools except a few , get funded by the government and work under a national programme. National here also means provincial governments. A few special schools that have religious or other choices are not funded by the government since they do not come under national programme. Quality of education is same in the government or private owned schools. The head master plays a key role in maintaining the quality.

In Germany, early child Education is not provided by government but all parents do arrange it for their children. At the age of six all the children join the government primary schools where besides the obligatory classes there is opportunity for learning painting and music etc. Intelligent children can skip classes and join higher classes. At secondary level starting at ten , the children enter specialised schools. The teacher, counsellor, parents and the child choose the type of school to join.

Germany has three to four types of secondary schools. The general schools are called main schools. The children with special interest to work with their hands join the real schools, which have strong vocational components. The children who are to be groomed for higher education join the gymnasiums. But, it is possible to change the schools depending on child’s progress and aptitude. At the age of ten they start learning English and when they are twelve they have the opportunity to learn another language. All the schooling is free and most often are under government.

If a child does not attend school, then the counsellor visits his house. If all persuasion fails then the police visit the parents and ensure child’s attendance in the school.

In Slovakia, similarly education of children is free and compulsory till sixteen. If the children do not attend the school then the parents immediately are vulnerable to lose their social benefits. There is provision for food in the schools and the children can stay in the schools under teacher’s attendance after the school hours.
In Europe, early childhood centres and primary schools are near the child’s house. Since high schools could be a little far, the children get transport scholarship proportionate to their parents income. Books are available for each child in the library. Quality and compulsory schooling is available to all the children.

When we compare with India, we have five types of schools at present. They are like (i) Very expensive schools for the rich (ii) Quality and expensive private schools and government financed public schools (like Central/ Sainik) for the elite executives and the neo rich (iii) private low grade schools with lowly paid teachers and bad infrastructure for the lower middle class (iv) regular government schools for the lower middle class in small towns and for poor households (v) regular government aided schools with very poor quality teaching in rural areas or government schools without teachers attending it in remote tribal areas (Vi) the government funded EGS centres. The great Indian nation guarantees education by opening education guarantee centres which exists in papers to be a unit to spend the millions of rupees.

Only a selected few children have access to quality education. Even the rich children are forced to one system of education during their high schools. We do not have different types of schools suiting to child’s needs. Government be it officials or politicians believe that “Government cannot run good schools”. Most of the senior leaders are forgetting that they are products of government schools and colleges. Without shame and with ignorance they have accepted governments inefficiency as a matter of principle.

What a vulgar nation we are creating? The personality of children are groomed and developed based on not their own ability, but on the basis of education they got from their schooling. The various kinds of schooling system develop children in different ways. The children attending the class one schools are being mentored to be the rulers of the economy. The students from the second grade schools will join the club of grade one executives. Similarly, students from the grade three schools will mostly join the class two or three jobs. As the story goes on children from the last two grades of schools will join the bandwagon of unskilled workers not coming within any class. It’s a new way of creating the lowly serving class to do the soiled job, like the one created by brahmanic society (vernashram) where the untouchables were not kept out of the society and system. The Brahmin led upper caste were having monopoly in every sphere of life.

The present education system looks very savage to the sensible citizens. But, this is how perhaps the ruling class finds a way to maintain a balance in the Indian society.




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