Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) and Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) jointly organised a web meeting on October 4, 2020 on the topic “Why not education of same quality for all?” People from across the country, young and old, participated enthusiastically in the discussion on this burning topic. A number of invited speakers contributed to the discussion, including the educationist Dr Anil Sadgopal, Shri Kanade, Mumbai and Suburban Secondary School Teachers’ Association, Vijay Patil, Jai Maharashtra Shikshan and Karmachari Sena, Satish Gore from Pune and Satwik from AIRSO.
The initiating presentation was made by Girish on behalf of the organisers. It pointed out that the promise of uniform and good quality education made in the Constitution and reiterated by several commissions set up by different governments has not been kept. This is because the ruling class of our country does not want everyone to have the same quality of education as a right. It is just a privilege. It benefits them like it did the British rulers before independence by perpetuating the age-old notion based on the caste system that some people are superior to others of our country who are condemned to a life of merciless toil due to their poorva janma karma. It profits from the availability of badly educated people working for a pittance.
The stratification in the school system reflects the stratification in society. In turn the hierarchy of schools in the country serves to maintain the caste and class hierarchy in society. India’s rank is 143rd among 193 countries in terms of public education spending in proportion to national income. If good education is to be a right then our country must have a common school system. Good education requires trained teachers who have regular secure jobs with good salaries. Only then can a teacher put his or her energy into imparting good education.
Let us overcome all our barriers like those of community, caste and party or union affiliation and ideology and unite around the demand of equally good quality education and a common school system in our country as our right and arouse all sections of our people to fight for its realization!
Dr. Anil Sadgopal said that the topic chosen for discussion is the most fundamental one. Without solving it, neither can the promises made in the Constitution be fulfilled, nor will the 130 crores of people in our country be able to sleep peacefully. He lauded the presentation. “I felt I myself was speaking and I agree fully with it!” were his words. He deplored the fact that none of the parties that have got elected have paid attention to this question. Why this conspiracy of silence?
Dr, Sadgopal pointed out that there is no country in the world, whether capitalist or socialist that has managed to educate all without a common school system and that India cannot be an exception. We have to unite all over the country and launch a movement for a common school system and that means we also have to demand an end to the business of profiteering in education. He concluded with the words “Common education for all! Workers and peasants will fight and win this!”
Other speakers talked about the horrific conditions in schools, whether government or private. One of them declared that the politicians benefit from private schools and colleges which many of them own. Whether it is the BJP now or the Congress earlier, their position has been the same. Others talked about the large disparity in wages for equal work and the lack of facilities. One of them talked about the necessity of rousing the parents to fight along with us for a common school system.
A participant presented facts and figures to demonstrate that India has the resources to provide equally good quality of education to one and all. Why is money not being spent on this? Government schools in the country have about 10 lakh vacancies. Filling them will give those many jobs. Total annual cost would be Rs. 40,000 crore. If more teachers are recruited in line with the world average teacher-student ration, the quality of government schools will immediately improve, besides providing jobs to about 30 lakh.
About 22,000 schools do not have any toilet for girls which results in many girls dropping out of school. At a cost of Rs. 1 lakh per toilet, the total expenditure involved across the country is only Rs. 220 crore. Around 5000 schools in Bihar are without a building. At a cost of Rs. 50 lakh per school for building, the total expenditure involved will be just Rs. 2500 crore.
In glaring contrast with this, there are so many instances of wasteful expenditure. This includes developing a central vista in New Delhi at the cost of Rs. 20,000 crore and building the biggest statue of the world at Rs. 2000 crore. More than Rs. 3 lakh crore has been given to public sector banks for recapitalisation due to write-off of over Rs. 6 lakh crore of loans of monopoly capitalists. Tax concessions to corporates in 2019 will lead to loss of government revenue of over Rs. 1.6 lakh crore per year.
The meeting concluded after vigorous discussion on how to develop the struggle for ensuring education of same quality for all children of our country and many proposals were put forward.