IT’S A SPIRIT TO BE CULTIVATED AND NOT A COMMODITY TO BE SOLD
Education is the art of learning with an influential effect on the mind, character and physical ability of an individual. It is a process of transmission of knowledge, skills and values from generation to generation. Education had been a major factor in evolution of civilized societies and their better sustenance, playing a sweeping role in enlightenment and empowerment of people. Guarantee of social equality with sovereignty in all aspects of life is the manifestation of multi faceted impact of process of valued learning called education. Contemporary world order and societal arrangement cannot carry on without the process of evolutionary learning and healthy progression of knowledge.
Evolution of knowledge and its dissemination has been going on for centuries but the current scheme of growth and diffusion of knowledge is enormous both in quality and quantity. Knowledge, from human skill of recollection has passed transitory phase of written words on the pages of large books to present electronic system packed with speed and precision. From informal education learning has metamorphosed into formal, classified system where every subject of knowledge has branched into many more specialized categories of information and further research. The enormous growth in education, particularly during last few decades and its subsequent exponential dissemination has revolutionized world, creating a much ambient situation of quality living and convenient learning.
After abolition of dictatorship our state made a much vibrant stride on the path of quality knowledge with an all-round emphasis on education. Schools, colleges and universities were established with excellent infrastructure and well qualified human resource. By the end of twentieth century we had many universities and professional colleges with specialized branches of modern education. Presently science, art, culture, languages and many other fields of education are part of our education curriculum providing certificate courses in almost all fields of knowledge.
Earlier education was predominantly under the direct control and supervision of the government and solely funded by the state budget. During the last three decades private sector made inroads into vital field of learning and many premier institutions of knowledge and learning were established along with hordes of places of quackery, fleecing people with their materialistic quest. These entrepreneurs of knowledge made education a profit-making commodity, thus eroding the credibility of all places of learning in general. Particularly, during last one decade mushrooming of private schools, education colleges, technical colleges, coaching centres, computer learning institutions and many paramedical training schools is quite visible. Many institutions are operating in shanty huts or few dingy rooms. Quite a few run their business of education from well established infrastructure facility but are short in qualified talent and other scientific teaching aids and infrastructure. It is also a fact that few institutions of great reputation provide quality education but at a much higher cost and are necessarily accountable for exploitation. Very few establishments render the true service of providing quality education at reasonable price and help in enlightening the society.
Presently our education sector has turned into a huge profit making business, particularly in the valley of Kashmir. Here, every big-shot is investing in this profiteering sector with huge and quick returns. Earlier only land mafia, spurious pharmaceutical suppliers, fake pesticide and fertilizer dealers would earn quick and huge bucks, but now these traders of bogus education and exploiters of knowledge have joined the syndicate of cheating and fraud and are getting huge returns. Due to lack of well defined education policy and other statutory legal provisions ever Tom, Dick and Harry has turned to the lucrative business of education. These sham educationists are not only fleecing students and other prospective learners but are also involved in exploitation of well qualified talent and other human resource either by under paying them or humiliating over trivial issues. Only a month back one well qualified young lady was driven to a situation of ending her life by one private school management in north Kashmir’s Sopore town. That young budding talented lady was pushed to wall of ill-treatment by ‘Jagawars’ of exploitative trade of fake education. It is more humiliating to know that the unfortunate teacher was humiliated and given a sermon on quality education by a least educated head of the school. Very less people of our society shed few tears on this unfortunate and cruel end of a blooming bud of knowledge. Materialism and exploitation in a cruel ‘jugalbandhi’ made a sensitive and humble lady to end her life for the sake of respect and dignity. This episode reveals the real face of our education system, particularly that of the private education sector.
Everyone knows and can easily make out the difference between the exorbitant fee structure of these private institutions and the genuine cost of imparting quality education. The huge gape gets much wider with every passing year. Unfortunately all this exploitation of education and knowledge is being orchestrated under the much sensitive nose of our ‘sarkaar’. Either some vested interests in the government are hand in glove with this education mafia or our system of governance is indifferent towards this grave situation of abuse.
Our state run education system with huge budgetary provision, infrastructure and human resource are unable to attract learners to their institutions and establishments because of outdated administrative system and lack of accountability. We as a nation are also collectively responsible for this state of affairs of our education system as huge state run education infrastructure at many places is going waste as people prefer to send their wards to private institutions just to give boost to their false pride and phony status. All these circumstances create a favourable situation for mushrooming of private education sector at the hands of unscrupulous elements with an exploitative mindset.
Government should come out with a clear education policy bereft of any ambiguity of exploitation and chances of unfair trading of education and knowledge and should make and enact legal provisions to stop and avoid this sticky situation of misuse at the hands of few deceitful elements. No private institution should be allowed to operate in any catchment area where state is having an established education infrastructure and all private establishments in such areas should either be closed or relocated to areas where government lacks the facility of quality education. For efficient, better and judicious management of quality education for all, government has to get all the education institutions both private and government run under the single command and control system. Government is morally and administratively duty bond to impose a minimum and maximum fee structure for these rouge organizations to stop exploitation of students and common people. To avoid exploitation of talented faculty working with private institutions government has to ensure a uniform pay structure for all private run schools and other establishments and should also prescribe rules of minimum qualification for recruitment of staff in these institutions.
In this world of development and knowledge, we lag behind in education! Tolerating exploitation of science of understanding at the hands of few is the most unfortunate part of our system. We as a nation should join hands with the authorities to do away with this murky trade of manipulative education and make every institution accountable before law of the land. But all this is possible only when government will reframe its policy of education sincerely and honestly through a panel of worthy lawmakers and eminent educationists at an earliest. Otherwise we will be known as a nation of ‘education sellers’.