Why not education of same quality for all?
Part 2: Not equal from birth!
The second meeting on “Why not education of same quality for all? organised by Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC), titled – “Not equal from birth!” was held on Sunday, November 1, 2020.
The main presentation was made by Dharmender on behalf of the MEC. The presentation highlighted the fact that the vast majority of the children in our country suffer from very low levels of physical and mental growth, as a result of poverty and chronic malnutrition. In addition, the majority of children of working class and peasant families, who cannot afford private kindergartens and nursery schools, are forced to go to Anganwadis, for pre-school education. Thus, while the development of physical, mental and social faculties of a child are fundamental to her overall development, the presentation showed that the discrimination and denial of basic rights starts from the birth itself and continues through the entire life cycle. Further, this discrimination is perpetuated through successive generations. All the policy proclamation and schemes of successive governments have remained only on paper; the reality is that increasing number of children are getting pushed further into the abyss of illiteracy and malnutrition. This reality was illustrated clearly with many facts and figures.
The presentation also described the working conditions of teachers in government schools and the Anganwadi workers who are tasked to impart pre-school education to children of the 1-5 age group. It brought out the fact that the Anganwadi workers themselves are not officially recognized as workers, they are forced to work for a pittance far below the statutory minimum wage and are greatly exploited. They are expected to carry out a whole host of responsibilities, of which the early childhood care and education is just one. If the state was serious about ensuring equal education for all, why does it not at least ensure minimum wages for Anganwadi workers, so that they may do justice to their responsibility of imparting pre-school education – the speaker asked. The presentation convincingly showed that our rulers do not want to ensure education of same quality for all. They want to keep the children of the workers and peasants uneducated or poorly educated, so that they can be super-exploited, in order to maximise the profits of the big monopoly corporate houses.
Students and youth, teachers, social activists, workers and peasants and a wide variety of people from Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Manipur, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP and Bihar attended the meeting and shared their experiences. The conditions in Anganwadis and government primary schools, the lack of basic amenities such as toilets and even nutritious food and clean drinking water, the abysmally low government spending on education, the huge number of posts of Anganwadi workers and government school teachers that are lying vacant, all these experiences helped to drive home the point central to the presentation – that our rulers deliberately create and perpetuate the conditions which will ensure that there will not be education of same quality for all. The monopoly corporate houses want to use the availability of cheap labour in our country to their advantage in their global competition. This is the real reason why education remains the privilege of a few. As a retired teacher pointed out, the real intent of the ruling class is seen very clearly in the fact that a large majority of working class and oppressed sections are completely marginalized in the present education system.
The participants pointed out how the government has deliberately destroyed the government schools and colleges so that the private education institutions who charge lakhs of rupees in admission and tuition fees can thrive. There is huge disparity in the facilities available in private and government schools. The government is closing down primary schools with low enrollment, depriving children in remote areas of any kind of education. There are thousands of schools across the country with only one teacher per school, teaching multiple grades and carrying out administrative duties simultaneously. In these circumstances, the much-publicised ‘flagship’ programs such as quota for Economically Weaker Section (EWS), are a cruel deception played out on the aspirations of the workers and peasants, for better education for their children. The children of workers and peasants, who lag behind due to lack of proper education and nutrition in early childhood, simply cannot compete with students in private schools who have got all the privileges since their childhood.
Concluding the meeting Bijju Nayak said that many countries around the world have ensured uniform education till a certain level, irrespective of social or economic status, so that all children attain a certain level of learning. For ‘education of same quality for all’ to become a reality in our country, we the working people have to come forward to build a new society whose aim is to ensure prosperity for all people, not to enhance the profits of a handful of monopoly corporate houses.
To read the full text of the presentation click: Why not education of same quality for all?, Part 2:Not equal from Birth