17 June, 2021

The Tunnel Vision Trap

The country's policy on education remains hostage to political games, says Krishna Kumar

The Tunnel Vision Trap
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

No one put it more bluntly than Indira Gandhi. Delivering a lecture in Rome in 1981, she said that an intercontinental missile costs the same as setting up 65,000 primary schools. This candid juxtaposition explains why India is both a nuclear power and a world topper in illiteracy and child labour. Let us face it. India has chosen to develop military might in preference to children’s health and education.

Since the mid-’60s, when the ‘basic education’ strategy inspired by Mahatma Gandhi was officially abandoned, primary education has stayed visionless, serving mainly as an instrument of social selections. A high drop-out rate ensures that about two-thirds of the children who enrol in grade one do not survive in the system beyond grade eight. Malnutrition and poverty, an unattractive school and indifferent - often cruel - teaching are the well-known factors which contribute to early elimination from school. In the overwhelming majority of primary schools, the child’s daily routine features dull chores and drills, interspersed with harsh words and...

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