The role of money in the school education system, problems in implementing the Right To Education (RTE) Act, and the haphazard growth of coaching centres were some of the key issues that experts raised at a seminar on the education system here on Thursday.
There was consensus among academicians and activists against commercialisation of education, highlighting that the capital intensive education even led to the clear cut divide between the rich and the poor.
“Not a single student from any government school in Punjab was admitted to a medical college during my tenure as the registrar (of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot),” said Dr Pyara Lal Garg, who now runs Bharat Gyan Vigyan Sanstha, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to school education.
He said the corporate model being adopted by the state government in imparting education was harmful for the education system.
Stating that the school education scenario was more grim in rural areas, Dr Garg pointed out that the Punjab government had failed to empower panchayati raj institutions (PRIs).
“The actual powers were lying with the block development and panchayat officers and not with the panchayats during the phase when the primary schools were handed over to the PRIs, and the same powers are now with district education officers,” Dr Garg said, pointing out the restoration of primary schools in villages back with the education department.
Prof. Manjit Singh, who retired from the Panjab University, highlighted the haphazard growth of “shops of education”, stating that Haryana has become a hub of 250 engineering colleges and 400 B. Ed. Colleges.
Senior journalist Sanjay Sharma suggested building a “credible information pool” that could sensitise the cross-section of society and wash out certain myths created by the lobbies with vested interests in the name of education.
The People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chandigarh unit president and eminent lawyer Roshal Lal Batta summed up the discussion, saying there was a need for a mass movement for equality in education in the country.
He stated that once the Labour Party in England manifested a prmise of clubbing all schools of different levels and initiating a common system of school education, and the party’s poll promise really worked when it was elected to power.