Indian science on the rocks

EducationWorld October 04 | EducationWorld

I read with interest and sadness your special report, “Science education on slippery path” (EW September). It’s unfortunate that today’s youngsters are not interested in science and there are only 157 people per million pursuing research in India. It’s no wonder that despite giant strides in the information technology and related sectors, India by far still remains underdeveloped. The near-bottom ranking of India’s top science institution “Indian Institute of Science” is a clear indicator that science education in the country is on the rocks.

The Union human resource development ministry should take urgent and immediate steps to reverse this trend, even if it means increasing the education cess from 2 to 3 or even 4 percent. I look forward to the day when India will have more than 5,000 researchers per million people.

Susheela Kumar

Also read: Science education on a slippery path

Early education information lacuna

I am thrilled to see that EducationWorld is addressing many controversial issues that have long been waiting to be brought into the public domain. I hope you will continue to do so.

Perhaps you are aware that several studies have shown that the early years are the most crucial to a child’s overall development and subsequent success in life. This is particularly so in a country where 67 percent of the children do not complete class II. Despite this fact, I am disappointed about the general shortage of information specific to pre-primary and primary education in India. There is a grave shortage of information regarding new technology developments, teacher training, learning resources, classroom management, behavioural issues, child psychology, theories of learning etc.

I hope you and your team will give this matter due consideration.

Katherine Rustumji
Gintara Foundation, Bangalore

Highly-enriched issue

The sustained effort of the EW team across the country to bring education into the homes of parents and teachers is a mission which needs to be supported by all people regardless of class, religion and politics.

You deserve special congratulations for your highly-enriched August issue which contained a brilliant analysis of the Union budget 2004-05; an insightful report on the tragic Kumbakonam incident and perceptive columns by Rajiv Desai, Dilip P. Patel, and S. C. Arora.

I hope EW will continue its crusade to reduce the increasing disparity in Indian education.

Kannur, Kerala

Private sector contribution

I read your editorial “CET case for deregulating Indian education” (EW September) with great interest. I agree with your basic proposition that the Karnataka government’s interference in professional institutions- engineering, management, medical etc, by demanding a 75 percent quota for students chosen by government and determining the fee structure is neither prudent nor justifiable, morally or rationally. The net result would be that in future, decent businessmen will refrain from promoting colleges because of unwarranted interference by government. However, unscrupulous businessmen would not be deterred since they can beat the system.

If a businessman constructs an apartment complex or a hospital, the government does not insist that 75 percent of them be given to those chosen by the government, at government-fixed prices. In the case of education, however, the government believes it has this right. Education is eventually a business. Managements need to make money and students are prepared to pay high fees, so that they land good jobs. Moreover rich people can give education to their mediocre children by paying high fees, as they would prefer their children to be in college rather than on the streets.

With the opening up of the telecom, aviation etc sectors to private industry, the public has benefited. Wherever government has a monopoly, or is interfering, the public suffers. In professional education the Karnataka government has made a mess of admissions, causing untold anxiety to parents and students. It needs to be said that private sector entrepreneurs have done a great service to higher education by promoting professional education colleges which no government would have built. As a result India is becoming a destination for higher education. Moreover students are getting education outside their home states, which is promoting national integration.

N. S Ramaswamy

(Prof. Ramaswamy is the former founder-director of NITIE, Mumbai, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai and IIM-BangaloreEditor)

Beneath superficial glitz

Your special report “Are boarding schools losing their shine?” (EW August) includes GD Goenka World School in its list of schools which are experiencing a sharp drop in applications. This is quite incorrect as our school at the beginning of its first full year of operation, has already enrolled 300 students from kindergarten to grade IX.

I am also puzzled as to the identity of the expatriate principal who is supposed to have left us. It certainly wasn’t myself; I’m still here and so is all of my teaching team. Mind you, if you are indiscreet enough to publish the names of the several schools who “benchmark their teachers’ pay packages with executive pay in industry,” I had better brace myself for a mass exodus. Fortunately this particular pot of gold is likely to prove as fictitious as the doctorate awarded to the principal of one of our neighboring schools.

However you are quite correct in stating that too many schools are chasing too few competent teachers. But a number of excellent colleagues have joined our team for no more money than they were earning in their previous institutions. Professional and courteous treatment of staff is as important as money. Indeed, those who have experienced mistreatment at the hands of callous employers would claim that it’s more important.

In assessing the viability of a school it is important to look beyond the superficial glitz to the reality beneath.

John S. Taylor 
Principal, GD Goenka World School

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