India wants to become a knowledge powerhouse.
But one look at its education system and it is clear that this is pipe dream at the moment. Look at the rot around: There is the nursery admission scam in Delhi, the high-cut-off madness in Delhi University and the raging controversy over politicians furnishing fake degrees.
From time to time, we also get regular reminders of how children in government schools are not really learning enough even though enrolments are almost 100%.
Even in this miserable scenario, the nursery admission scam is the most distressing because rich parents are denying a poor child — someone who is same age as their own ward — a chance to get an education by admitting their own in nursery schools through nefarious means.
By doing so, they are not only denying a child the chance to realise her potential but also robbing the country of valuable human resources.
According to the law, private schools in Delhi are required to reserve 25% of seats for children from economically poorer sections (EWS) in all fresh admissions, entry level upwards. They are also required to provide free books, uniforms and writing materials to poor students.
The EWS category children are those whose parents earn less than `1 lakh a year from all sources. Unable to digest this loss of hefty revenue (admission fees are very steep and many schools are known to take ‘donations’), private schools have gone to court, where the matter is pending.
The admission touts in alleged connivance with school and government authorities were procuring fake documents to claim seats earmarked for EWS students for rich students.
The alleged scamsters had even manipulated the admission lottery system. The Delhi nursery admissions racket came to light in 2014, when the Delhi Police was tipped off about the organised racket in the city and the police have now unearthed 10 modules of the accused who gave fake papers for the admissions in the EWS quota.
To secure admissions in these schools, parents cough up anything between `5 lakh and `10 lakh to the touts for an EWS seat which their child is not eligible for.
After the scam came to light, many of the schools feigned ignorance and parents who used these dubious means gave lame excuses.
While the touts and the government servants are guilty of wrongdoing, the actions of schools and the parents are also criminal.
At the same time, the racket also shows there is a huge demand-supply problem in our education system and the uneven quality of our educational institutions is forcing people to vie for only certain schools, colleges or universities. It is this sort of pressure that is leading to scams like the one in Delhi. And clearly, this is only the tip of the iceberg.