Education for All – Vinay Rai

Education for All – Vinay Rai

Indian economic growth can be sustained if we move to a situation when every child, in particular, every girl receives at least eight years of schooling as a fundamental right. This is the first step to begin with and we must ensure quality elementary education without which our country cannot progress.

Social justice and gender equality can be ensured only if we have the basic elementary education system in place. We as a nation are not doing enough in the field of elementary education, and there is concern also on not just by the lack of inaction but by the total absence of accountability. Thegovernment of India's Sarva Shiskha Abhiyan (SSA) is supposed to provide the policy framework for ensuring quality education for all children. But achieving any of the SSA goals within the stipulated time period seems impossible. 

For instance by 2007, all children including girls are expected to complete five years of primary schooling when today some 40 per cent drop out before completing primary education. And is it really likely that by 2010 all children would be assured eight years of quality elementary education? 
There is no accountability to the millions of children whose future and lives we are playing with? There are many unresolved issues in the educational system. There is a major push to promote alternative learning centres for children of the rural areas. These alter- native schools do not comply with the notions of uniform schooling and quality education. 

The problems of the regular school system persist mainly poorly trained teachers, overburdened infrastructure, poor teaching aids, etc. To claim that children in alternative schools learn more than in the regular government schools is not accurate either. Also to patronize them by calling them a low-cost option is erroneous especially when the price we have to pay for this kind of education is going to be very high in long terms. On the grounds that any education is better than no education, India is unfortunately perpetuating a two- or even multi-track system of education - exceptionally good for the rich and awfully inferior for the poor. 

Here also the gender bias is evident where in you have boys going to regular schools and private schools and girls being sent to the cheap alternative schools. Secondly there is not much thought that is being given to the fate of children beyond primary schooling and this is when many girls drop out of school. Third, the physical infrastructure of schools is seriously inadequate for promoting quality And lastly there is very little financial support forthcoming for the SSA. This is a clear indication that we need to boost up investments in elementary education. There is an immediate need to strengthen supervision and support systems and also training needs to be improved. The investment in education sector needs to be increased significantly and the financial situation of both Central and State government is weak. The key challenge is to operationalise the policy and programmes for universalising elementary education. 

Founder and President of Rai FoundationVinay Rai on the issue of education for all says that "a keenness and a commitment towards pursuing higher education should not be denied to anyone. No one should be denied the opportunity to acquire quality education irrespective of his/ her ability to pay." 

To be able to provide quality education to so many millions of children we all should join hands in mobilizing public support and public attention at every level right down to the community. Also there are no systems of accountability and even where funds are available the procedures are so complex that it becomes impossible to utilize those resources. 

Vinay Rai adds that it is shocking that there is no regular and reliable method of testing learning achievements of children. "All the investment in the education system will be meaningless unless it can be shown that they contribute to a definite improvement in learning achievements. We must be accountable to children, and do everything we can to assure every child receiving quality education," he says. - Vinay Rai

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