Way back in 2004 when this pioneer education news magazine, promoted in 1999 with the mission to arouse public opinion to exert pressure on the ignorant establishment to develop India’s abundant and high-potential human capital, was in its infancy, we featured a cover titled ‘Dirty dozen corrupt practices destroying Indian education’. Seventeen years later following a rising number of anecdotal reports of multiplying rackets and rip-offs in the education sector, your editors were compelled to revisit this issue.
And lo and behold, the dozen corrupt practices that were poisoning the education system in yester-years are flourishing unchecked. Worse, after enactment of well-intentioned legislation such as the landmark Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, new rackets have been devised with a larger number of parasites nibbling at roots of the system. It’s a telling commentary on the depth of the moral rot that has permeated post-independence India’s professedly socialist society, that there’s no shortage of citizens ready, willing and able to profit from denying the world’s largest child and youth population their fundamental right to good quality education which is tantamount to snatching bread from their mouths.
Although the major share of the blame for this sorry situation must be laid at the doorstep of politicians and bureaucrats who foolishly believe that the nation can generate financial capital without developing human capital, the establishment — academia, business, industry and the influential middle class — are complicit. We have stood idly by as the abundant, high-potential human resources of the country are being washed down the drain. It’s high time a political consensus and societal acceptance that provision of acceptable quality education for all, is the non-negotiable pre-condition of national growth and development.
The cover story apart, in our special report feature we have advanced a proposition likely to generate controversy, and hopefully, intelligent debate. Should the academic year 2021-22 during which most education institutions were shuttered because of the Covid pandemic be written off and re-covered? Well, I believe this is the best option, especially for children in pre-primary and primary education. It will prove less stressful for children and provide them a strong platform for future learning.
This issue of EW is especially rich with unique editorial content. Check out the insightful essays penned by Dr. Krishna Kumar and Prof. Geeta Kingdon, and our People section which profiles several inspiring movers and shakers in Indian education.