Remembering Vinod Raina And The Right To Education...
VAGISH K JHA
“Don’t limit the child to your own learning, for he was born in another time,,” said Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Right to Education (RTE), was a great leap forward for Indian school education. In many ways it broke many a shackles. It paved the way for making education inclusive and put forth the learning process of a child as the central concern. It charted out a blueprint of many a radical break from a system of schooling carrying on the relics of bygone era. It was a major step in the long drawn movement for bringing about change in school education.
Capturing the spirit of this movement, Vinod Raina, one of the prime movers behind RTE, had once said, “Every child has the potential to become a creative person, to bring out that creativeness, which is not confined to school subjects, and this should be the quality norm”.
We need to be clear here that RTE was not the panacea. It had left many things wanting, still. Vinod Raina was among the first to recognise that there were many lacunae in the final legislation. But he pointed out that such compromises were inevitable in a large and complex society like India with so many different vested interests pulling in different directions. If negotiation is the crux of democratic process, it was for the first time that educational objectives were negotiated by the people and not just by the decree or laws. It was a great beginning to welcome the twenty first century, as it were. We were all hoping to go further and iron out glitches.
But, not even a decade has gone by, which is a small period for any educational change to show tangible impact, we seem to go back on promises. The 'no detention policy' is gone. CCE has been sidelined and replaced by the archaic board examination not just in class X but the plans are afoot to introduce board in classes V and VIII as well. Many more retrograde steps are cooking beyond the public gaze to reverse the clock of education back to square one.
Instead, the government schools are getting closed at an alarming pace. The private 'five star' schools are mushrooming all over like glorified degree churning factories. Many of these are also money spinning ventures with political power that be blessing them. So, what we are faced with is the macabre truth unfolding within the so called sacred precincts of school. Where the very basic safety of child is not ensured, who is bothered about what do they teach and how?
Clamoring for CCTV cameras in school simply shows the pathology of times. It fails to recognise that CCTV does not come for help. It does not even work when they are required not to work. The video footage, in case they are available, can be 'suitably' fuzzy and hazy in accordance with the blurred vision of school administration. It fails to realise that it is the collective ownership of responsibilities that can ensure safety in society or school.
RTE could be a stumbling block for their free and wild run. So, it must be diluted. The message is loud and clear.
Today, on the death anniversary of Vinod Raina, the foremost champion for the cause of RTE in particular and education in general, we need to remind ourselves as to how the substantial gains of RTE are being reversed and diluted and the gains of a long struggle are being compromised. Such times times serve as a warning for getting together and defend our right for inclusive, comprehensive and quality education for all.