LONG CHERISHED GOAL
Universal augmentation for primary education is one of the protracted and cherished goals of the past millennium and carried forward to the present millennium. Despite the fact that it is yet to be achieved, this slow achieving objective has changed the process of transformation in all stages of human enterprise. The world is experiencing unprecedented and extraordinary changes in all fields of human endeavour. Changes are the order of the day and they are to be received or rejected as per one’s revelation, introspection, investigation and deduction. Constructive changes that have impact on the global development and literacy need to be perceived with a right sense and understood in a proper way. Changes at times confined to a small or a larger group. If the change is inevitable and development oriented then accurate planning is essential for implementation. Implementation is the key word but preventable interruptions and delay cause break down of plans.
We all know the delay in formulating an independent education policy after independence cost us a lot. Visionlessly we have followed the recommendations of Sergeant Report of 1944 prepared to suit the colonial education system until the announcement of first Indian education policy in 1968. How much time we have taken to bring uniformity in 10+2+3 pattern of education in our country that has opened up many controversies and confrontation? One such delay we are experiencing now is in implementing the universal elementary education. The constitution identified this as one of the goals and set a time limit of 10 years for achieving the same. The irony is, fifty five years have lapsed still we are talking about universal elementary education. We have not yet reached half way mark in this direction. Of course whatever we have achieved is commendable when compare to our population growth rate. Still the question that we have to answer with sincerity is how much efforts we have put in for meeting the target set out by the constitution.
The changing faces of the society and the increasing concern for growth of population, alleviating poverty, environmental protection, water conservation, increasing urbanization and boosting information technology clubbed with several other factors of regression towards casteism and groupism play their negative role in the process of universal education. In these changed perspectives, social, political and economic factors have taken the role of deciders of educational policies and their implementation.
The drastic changes made following the recommendations of the Education Commission (1964-66) through the first education policy in 1968 brought in the most wanted changes in the field of school education. It took almost 10 years to adopt the uniform system of schooling in our country that too with the initiative of the NCERT, which rigorously embarked on developing the school curriculum framework.
There were several unconventional system of education envisioned for achieving the goal of wide-ranging educational transformation. Still we have not tried out those systems of informal and non-formal schooling. Multiple entry, part time schooling and teaching by professionals are the unconventional systems yet to be tried out with vigour and rigour.
Gone out of memoirs the first policy on education of 1968 and came the New Education Policy in 1986. After a long gap of 20 years, NEP was announced. The long gap has given us sufficient time to bring in changes in the field of primary education. Nevertheless, we have utilized the gap to expand the facilities in the field of education and not to achieve the goal set out for achieving the universal primary education. However, the significant development was we could establish schools though with insufficient number of teachers almost in all the villages which is a commendable achievement for a country like
respect of both area and population.
The second Education Policy (NEP) yet to be followed by a full-fledged education policy has played vital role in bringing wished-for changes in elementary sector. After 15 years of its implementation, the initial goal of universal primary education remains unachieved, as the NEP has changed its vision to coop with the rapid global revolution at the cost of universal primary education towards quality of higher education, preservation of cultural heritage, constitutional commitments, national individuality etc. The result is non-achievement of universal elementary education and extraordinary development in the field of higher education.
The reason is very simple that education is under concurrent list of the constitution, which empowers the states to decide on their own education policies without any hindrance to the national integrative goals. This being both advantage and drawback makes it difficult to achieve the goal of universal elementary education.
Still exist the villages where we could find considerable number of non-performers and dropouts in primary education. We have achieved a lot in the field of higher education and thereby restricting the tertiary education to those who have opportunity for regular and good schooling without caring for the population, which is deprived of fundamental primary education. Policies may come and changes would take place but it will not be possible to achieve the goals of universal primary education, if it is continued in the same direction.
Now it is time to try out non-formal and informal schooling vigorously all over the country, which would only help us to achieve the goal of universal primary education at least by 2020. Attitudinal change in teachers, parents, intellectuals, professionals and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour for achieving the long cherished goal of universal elementary education. Further the projects like DPEP, National and state Open Schools have to add to their objectives in addition to the existing responsibilities and work for the achievement of universal primary education in a time-bound manner. Compulsory adoption of villages by the teacher education institutions may also be contemplated and decisions may be taken at higher levels to realize this goal.