A week ago I came across a German law regarding the education of a child. It turns out education is compulsory for every child. There are stern consequences if a child does not attend school. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. 100% attendance is required, barring exceptions like illness or funerals etc. If parents do not send their kids to school the kids can even be taken away from them and handed over to child services. If you do not believe me look here, here and here. Further, I asked one of my German colleagues and he confirmed the law.
Out of curiosity, I started looking if we had any such law in India. I found UPA government brought Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act to existence in 2009. At a superficial glance, the act resembles the one in Germany. However, after delving deeper into the details the disparities became ostensible. Moreover, the act actually manifested itself as one of the worst kinds of a mockery of education policies. The aftermaths of the act are visible now but somehow people are not connecting the dots.
This act is one of the major reasons for rising unemployment today. The act clearly states that no student shall be detained or expelled till class eight. A fundamental question, will a kid put efforts in his studies if he knows he can not fail? Technically, the children on papers will become literate but will barely learn. At every stage after, instead of trying to rectify the act, the concerned departments tried to push the problem to the next level leading to a cascading effect. Class X Board Exams which were standard exams till 2009, were rendered insignificant or a mere formality. The exam was made an optional exam with grading system introduced. In addition to this, to push the problem to the next level the difficulty level of Class X and Class XII exams was reduced. This could be justified simply by the fact that the number of students scoring more than 90-95% marks increased. More number of students score 100/100 in many subjects now as compared to earlier times. Overlooking cheating/copying during the exams worsened the already disturbed situation. These effects can be justified by the dipped pass percentage when class X exam was made mandatory again and was conducted in a clean(no cheating) way. One of the ex-chief ministers in UP actually ended up claiming that some cheating is okay.
“Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students.” – Nelson Mandela
Private universities became the other beneficiaries of the act. Myriad students who completed their schooling, will have to graduate from somewhere and they did it from any university available. The problem was pushed once again to the next level, but for the last time. There are millions of graduates with negligible employable skills and “know how” simply because they never had to make efforts to get promoted to the next level/class. The genuine problem manifests itself now in the form of unemployment. Jobs require skills which these graduates do not have. A study said 95% software programmers are unfit for software development. And this is just a beginning, as the kids who for the first time enjoyed this ‘privileged act’ during there class X, would have graduated in 2015/16 but they still would have some exposure to learning and exams in the school time(before the act came in existence). In the near future the unemployment is going to sky rocket because the kids then would have never faced any true exam in their lives and would not have inculcated the habit of making efforts at all.
Even if we assume, the people who formulated this act did not foresee this and had clean intentions towards children, then why does the act exclude the state of Jammu & Kashmir from its purview? Isn’t the act depriving the kids in J&K of their basic “ free & compulsory education” right? The act clearly tries to separate an Indian State from India as the article 35A does.
The people who formulated the act, either were not interested in helping the children in J&K at all or they knew the act would impair the learning ability of the children and so spared J&K.
Adding 25% reservation in private schools looks like doing charity on someone else’s money. The reimbursement received is distinctly less than the fees for high-end private schools. Where does the school generate the rest of the amount? From the other 75% students. Now you know why the fees increased in private schools, the charity is being done with parent‘s money. Reservation for poor kids is still acceptable but including socially backward clause adds one more reason of contention in the future. It is as if, caste-based reservation (in Grads, Post Grads and Jobs) has not created enough protests-riots-public property destruction-problems that we need more areas for altercations. A general category child coming from not so affluent family would at some point realize that his/her family lived a very frugal life and had to pay a lot to get educated whereas some of his friends had more money to spend but did not pay the fee. Earlier, children understood caste system during graduation but know caste-ism is being fed at a very early age.
“As you sow, so shall you reap”
In addition to all this, the act also discriminates on the basis of religion. All the minority religion controlled schools are kept out of the purview of this act. In essence, the law applies to schools controlled by Hindus. About 1 Lac schools were shut down till 2014 due to the RTE Act. Is it one of the new tactics for minority appeasement and attack Hindus?
Lastly, the “compulsory” in the title is not applicable to the parents. Why would a parent not want to send his child to school if the government is providing free education? What is the child doing if he is not going to the school? Will making it compulsory for parents and guardians to send kids to school reduce crimes like child labor, etc? But with this law, it is good that it is not compulsory for parents. Social skills and interactions which were the downsides of homeschooling don’t look downsides with this kind of environment in schools. How can an act that not only discriminates on the basis of states, caste, and religion but also promotes homeschooling be called “Right of Children to free and compulsory education act”?
It is simple, create a monster, feed it, nurture it for years and when the monster starts causing havoc start blaming the government, who actually is the victim of a monster created by their predecessors.
Even if the almighty god visits earth he/she would not be able to fix issues like this in 5 years, let alone a human being. A mess that was created and nurtured for years cannot be fixed in one term.