THE legacy and experience of educational development in different countries varies according to the political background, culture and religion of the people, and economic means and objectives. The first state in the world to institutionalize education for its citizens was Greece. Greek citizens sent their sons to schools upto the age of 14 and attained near total male literacy as early as the 5th century BC. The goal was political, to secure a republican form of government through an elitist citizenry.
PEOPLE ’S knowledge and skills play a role in the development of society.The importance of human capital as a source of economic growth is gaining in emphasis, especially with the shift from an agricultural-industrial economy to a knowledge based one. India though rich in human capital is poor in human development. The challenge is to reduce this gap and the responsibility lies with the three major stakeholders: government, the education system and the labour market.
WHILE the focus of education policy in developing countries such as India has largely centred on increasing the resource base and the number of government-run schools, the role of private fee-charging schools in the primary education sector has not been appreciated as much by academics and policy-makers. However, as several recent papers point out, private fee-charging schools increasingly cater to a substantial fraction of the primary-school going population in India.
Achieving universal elementary education is not merely a function of availability of additional resources or even an expansion of the school infrastructure. These are necessary but insufficient conditions for making universal elementary education a reality.
What lies ‘Beyond Access’? Why is it that increasingly we allude to access as the basic issue, while the ‘quality’ of education is relegated to the so-called second level of problems or priorities? What is implied by the term quality of education, especially when it is perceived either chronologically or even financially as something that can be tackled once the primary problem of getting children to school has been resolved?
Over a period of twenty years, Rishi Valley Education Centre has created a multi-grade multi-level programme for elementary education known as ‘The School in a Box’. The nomenclature is meant to reflect both the programme’s compactness and its portability: like a medium sized suitcase it can be carried around by a single teacher. The Box, has in fact, been transported to many regions in India.
In matters related to elementary education, more than in any other field, the Indian state’s metacapital is unquestionable. That is, the state not only has access to real capital but also deploys and reinforces its power through the symbolic, cultural and social capital that it has built up.
It is noteworthy that among the several articles in part-IV, only Article 45 speaks of a time limit, no other article does. Has it no significance? Is it a mere pious wish, even after 44 years of the Constitution?’ asked the judges, while declaring education up to the age of 14 years to be a fundamental right in the J.P. Unni Krishnan Case 1993. The judges agreed with the statement in the Bandhua Mukti Morcha case that ‘right to education is implicit in and flows from the right to life guaranteed by Article 21.’
We have addressed the issue of (universal) access with a fair degree of success. The problem of quality remains... it is indeed a very complex problem.’ 1 Why is quality seen as a ‘problem’? Is it because we do not understand the exact implications of a composite concept – ‘quality education’? This would basically make it a conceptual issue. Or is it a case of inability to design and handle an implementing mechanism?