Ministers shouldn’t threaten citizens for not sending their children to school
The terrible infrastructure in schools, problems of access to rural schools, widespread caste-based discrimination are all roadblocks in the path to education in rural India. The government must instead work on making it possible for everyone to be able to send their children to schooleditorials Updated: Oct 10, 2017 09:28 IST
It was possibly meant as a flourish of language to put across how serious he was about the issue; but when a Cabinet minister in Uttar Pradesh responsible for Backward Classes Welfare and Disabled People development threatened to keep people in police stations without food or water if they failed to send their children to school, he made a spectacle of his absolute lack of awareness about the problem. The problem of schooling is not simply one of parents not wanting their children to be educated. It is a far more complicated problem of social deprivation, access to schools and the quality of education, among many others. A statement like this can be treated as insignificant if it comes from a lay person, but is irresponsible from a minister in the UP cabinet.
India’s government school system, especially in villages and far flung areas, is plagued by absentee and unqualified teachers, terrible infrastructure, and barely any official attention to their plight. Social norms force girls to either give up education or never go to school at all. The terrible infrastructure in schools, problems of access to rural schools, widespread caste-based discrimination are all roadblocks in the path to education in rural India. Many children are forced into work at a very early age to buttress their family’s meagre incomes, and can therefore not afford to go to school at all. Seasonal migrants and their families that have to travel in order to work, earn a living, and make ends meet can hardly be blamed for not sending their children to school.
Coercion cannot be the solution to what is definitely a serious problem. Threatening parents with dire consequences for failing to send their children to school will only worsen an already bad situation for most marginalised parents. The government must instead work on making it possible for everyone to be able to send their children to school. Addressing the social issues around the problem of compulsory schooling in a organised and multi-pronged way is a better solution than threatening punishment.