- The very mention of education evokes passionate discourse from literally every citizen in India even though the majority may not be experts in the field. Expertise is not a criterion you see as the free-flowing exchange of thoughts on the quality of education in the country elicits divergent responses. No surprises when citizens vouch unequivocally about the importance and inevitability of endorsing quality education for not only the progress of society but also the country in the larger scheme of things. Indeed, a thrust on quality education always guarantees unanimity of opinion which may not be the case with other issues of prominence. No wonder, political leaders irrespective of party affiliations extend unambiguous support to education.
PC: Team Leverage Edu
- Now, our political masters are also most adept at playing politics around the topic of education with obvious eyes on consolidating their vote banks. Quotas and reservations in the education sector is a ubiquitous issue that always leads to clamouring amongst politicians siding with the people on the matter. And some would not mind stirring a hornet’s nest too. A case in point is the challenge in the Madras high court to the Emergency-era shifting of education from the state list to the concurrent list which is a futile exercise. What is the necessity of turning back the clock now? Forty-six years have passed since the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act. In this period, the education sector has seen far too many changes, and most can’t be reversed either.
- For instance, a common national medical test now allows students the ease of appearing for just one examination instead of multiple ones conducted by each state. States still enjoy the flexibility to operate their universities, schools, and education syllabus. The private sector is also flourishing in education. And the policy tinkering at all levels goes on. UGC is restructuring undergraduate, PG, and doctoral programmes. States are trying out clustering of schools, closing down smaller schools. Presently, instruction in English seems to have lost favour at the Centre, even though society is irrevocably headed in the opposite direction. But the moot point is no one entity can claim complete control since it is a diverse ecosystem.
PC: Anum Ansari
- Far more important issues than locating education in the Constitution are at stake. The Constitution’s bouquet of rights, directive principles, and duties cannot be meaningfully enjoyed by citizens without quality education, and access to quality remains a big failure. Against the National Education Policy’s goal of combined government expenditure on education at 6% of GDP, 3% of GDP was budgeted in 2021-22. As such, it is incumbent that states should goad the Union Government to spend more rather than move education to the state list which could reduce the Centre’s urgency to boost education spending. Mind you, the obsession with controlling education isn’t helping. Hopefully, better sense prevails and politics in education can wait.