Calling RTE foolish; is foolish!

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
28 May 2013 22:13 IST

Is India suffering because politics becoming more and more predominant than the ideology? Or has politics become the ideology? Or is it the only mantra of governance today – what’s might it right and what’s yours is foolish? Has politics become so foolish?

It is bearable when RTI-activist-turned Congress spokesperson Sudip Tamankar asks why is chief minister Manohar Parrikar supporting the casinos today when he was consistently opposing it as the opposition leader? It is even bearable when he replies to media’s question saying that Congress opposes casinos today because it is dharma of the opposition to oppose everything. Is it the same dharma of Sudip Tamankar followed by Parrikar? Is there no difference between the two?

If not, Parrikar would have not called the Right to Education Act – foolish. And the occasion he chose to call it foolish; is more foolish. It was a public assurance he was giving to the students and parents of Std XI not to panic because there are less number of seats and more number of students. The number of passed out students has increased by almost 5000 this year.

“This is the result of Kapil Sibal’s foolish RTE policy”, he quipped. And then he went on criticizing the system of promoting students from Std V till Std VIII, whether the student passes or fails. Of course, he said that the entire education act is not bad, but the system of default passing is bad. Fine, he may have his differences of opinion on the system. But how is it related to SSC results? Neither the system is followed in Std IX nor in Std X. There is no default passing; you have to perform. Or is Parrikar trying to say that 5000 more SSC students ‘performed’ this year because of Sibal’s “foolish” RTE and they passed the examination? In that case, this should be taken as a positive sign, and definitely not negative.

 

Parrikar, actually, is a good educationist. His two speeches in the last Assembly session – on education as well as higher education – were master pieces. He even criticized the faulty system of examination to judge intelligence of a talented student. In fact the RTE focuses precisely on this aspect. The Comprehensive Continuous Evaluation – CCE – is meant for assessing and developing the student continuously and not merely based on last-minute preparation and the memory of a student while answering the exam. If the student does not perform, it is considered that the teacher has failed, and not the student. In fact this is the reason even the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education wants to introduce the CCE system at Std IX and Std X level, but after training the teachers.

It’s not that Parrikar doesn’t know this. But being a politician, he is more obsessed with politics than the future of education. As a BJP man, he thinks he needs to take each and every opportunity to condemn the Congress and its policy; no matter it has logic or not. And that’s what he did. Firstly, he literally ridiculed the students who performed better in SSC examination this year while hitting out at the RTE, merely because it was brought by the Congress. Secondly, he admitted indirectly that neither the RTE nor the CCE is being followed judiciously in Goa, due to which students don’t come to class and teachers don’t teach them properly. Whose fault is it? The human resource development minister of the Indian Union, or the education minister of Goa State? Whose responsibility is it if the spirit of RTE is not followed judiciously?

Right to Education is a well-spirited act. It is necessary if India needs to be a knowledge economy. It is necessary if our overpopulation needs to give us demographic dividend. It had to be welcomed even if it was brought by the BJP or Jayalalitha or Mamata Banerjee. If it has flaws, it’s our responsibility to improvise upon it. Definitely not to call it foolish.

Better we avoid playing politics with education, Mr Parrikar. Let’s be wise; not foolish!

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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