Education and health are two important sectors that define the social and economic indicators of the state.
While excessive political interference has resulted in a decline in the quality of education in Maharashtra’s schools and colleges, public hospitals are not faring any better.
Exorbitant private health and education institutions are an indication that the new government will need to fast-track reforms on an urgent basis.
Consider this. The government has closed down 13,905 schools because there were less than 20 students this year. These are mostly in rural areas where children are taught by one teacher.
The new government has clubbed ministries related to education. “There has been excessive political interference in higher education, and inept bureaucracy handling the department has done more harm to it. Our public universities are now in a state of disarray. But it’s good that the CM has identified this problem,” said policy expert B Venkatesh Kumar.
Capitation and donation in private schools is another growing menace. “There needs to be a strict law to tackle the issue,” said Ramesh Joshi, president of municipal school teachers association, who is fighting this issue in court.
The health sector is not faring too well either. According to the state health department, there have been around 4,68,680 female foeticide cases between 2001 and 2011, including 30,116 in Mumbai.
“The government has to bring in a new law to regulate genetic counselling centres that are mushrooming in Mumbai. The battle against female foeticide is evolving with newer technology allowing couples to select the sex of the baby,” said Varsha Deshpande from the Lek Ladki Abhiyan.
The government needs to ensure there are enough doctors and nurses, update the disease modules, among other things. “Shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, has deprived many of basic treatment. This needs to change,” said Milind Mhaske, Praja Foundation.