Thursday, June 22, 2006

excellence, donations and reforms in education

In the light of the Garima Godar incident, where a girl child was denied admission in spite of having scored 97.6%, I am left wondering if this is a result of the bill on educational reforms, which was passed last year, and enforced this academic year.

"Maybe they wanted donation," said Naresh Devi, Garima's mother.

I am yet to find any data on whether she is an only child. But I am hoping she isn't. For if she is, it could be an indicator of things to come.

I had written about my concerns about the education reforms when they were first proposed sometime in November. I am copying below relevant parts from a post in my old blogdrive account.

(Read an article in The Hindu covering the viewpoints of school managements here.)

Only single girl children are eligible for free education, and they lose the privilege the moment a boy is born. If the issue is gender discrimination, aren’t parents more likely to discriminate between two siblings, when they have to make a choice between whether they pay the electricity bill, or send the girl to school. But such hypothetical situations do not arise in the CBSE syllabus.

Moreover, I am not sure what the provisions are for orphans, or children of single mothers. What about adopted children, who may not necessarily be orphans (pardon, my stating the obvious, but its important). If adopted children are eligible, then this might trigger off girl children being rather vulnerable to adoption. If they are not, that’s another section deprived. A no-win situation.

As with most reservations in India, this one too looks most likely to benefit the creamy layer. I say this because CBSE schools are usually affiliated/ run by some trust or the other. In any case, there is usually a clever provision for parallel inflow of donations. At least my school had one. And admission was rejected on vague unimpeachable grounds if the donation was not made. (Oh, yes, they prescribed the Minimum Retail Donation, and certain adjustments were made for wholesale admissions.)

I am sure this is not true of all schools, but I fear this practice may be adopted by schools unable to sustain themselves in the wake of the directive that looks set to drain away more than half their regular income. Governmental subsidy to schools may be an option worth considering.

Another issue is that of schools hiking fees for boys, and girls till Class V, making CBSE schools even more elitist. Moreover, this may cause serious repercussions on the social dynamics when the poor charity cases come in Class VI.

Moreover, the free education is from Class VI onwards. Are Messrs. CBSE aware that there is usually an entrance test, which candidates have to clear? This is absolutely at the discretion of the schools, with the Board having no control over it. No records are maintained, no reviews are done. What happens to the girls who attempt to shift from Government schools to CBSE after Class V.

Will they be told primly that they were ‘below the standards of excellence desired by the school’?

Disclaimer: My views on reservations and caste, aired rather freely in the article on education, have since changed. Read the entire article titled Educational Reforms to see what I mean.


oof ya! said...

v -

this is an insightful post. i would say more but right now i am still feeling angry.

angry fix said...

looking forward to your thoughts on the issue.
i am still looking for some data on her.