EDUCATION is the most precious intangible asset that one can possess. It can lift one from the morass of poverty, ignominy and non-entity to the peak of glory, affluence and enviable status in the society. It also enables one to distinguish between right and wrong, rational and irrational, chaff and grain, sublime and ridiculous. In a nutshell, education distinguishes man from animal and the right kind of education is the foolproof remedy of all our socio-economic maladies. It is only the technically qualified and well-qualified persons who can contribute a lot to the accelerated growth of the economy which is a must for any nation to occupy the place of pride in the comity of the nations.
But it is a matter of grave concern and shame that such a basic thing as education is getting commercialised at a fast pace and the private enterpreneurs find it the most lucrative, hassle-free and risk-free industry wherein they are investing billions of rupees only to multiply their money in a fabulous and astonishing way. Our government seems to be totally unconcerned and grossly apathetic to the gross economic exploitation of the masses being carried out by these merchants of higher education in an unabashed way. Higher education, especially technical and medical education, has become too expensive even for the middle class people to afford. In English medium public schools, even elementary education has gone beyond the reach of the poor masses. In the land of Gandhi and Tagore who had exvisioned that in the India of their dreams everybody would have access to knowledge, technical education has become the preserve of affluent people only. Howsoever intelligent and talented the son of a poor man may be, he can’t dream of becoming a doctor or engineer unless his parents can shell out a huge amount of money on his education, which is a sheer impossibility. His potentialities and endowments remain buried and undeveloped and his dreams remain pipe dreams only.
This policy of privatisation and commercialisation of education suits both government and the private players alike and the only sufferers are the ‘king makers’ i.e. the poor masses of this country. It suits the government insomuch as it is able to abdicate its responsibility of spending a huge chunk of its budget on catering to the educational needs of the society, which should be treated as the foremost duty of the rulers towards the ruled. These private players transfer a share of the booty to the government also, rendering education a profit earning activity even for the Government, which otherwise is the most onerous liability.
In the past, private schools and colleges were run by philanthropists who donated liberally for the cause of education and raised donations from the rich people so that even the poorest may have access to education and may not remain deprived of it for want of money. They considered imparting education by running charitable educational institutes, a missionary and not a mercenary activity and pursued it religiously and altruistically. But such persons have now been replaced by avaricious businessmen who are amassing fortune through education industry. Even the so-called charitable schools and colleges are fleecing the poor masses by charging hefty fees and other funds.
In such a scenario, not only the students but teachers are also sufferers. They are paid meagre salaries and maximum work is extracted from them. There being no effective laws governing their service conditions and safeguarding their rights, they are at the mercy and whims of their masters and are amenable to be exploited most ruthlessly. That is why, we witness the mushroom growth of public schools, B.Ed. colleges, engineering, medical and business management colleges all around. Education is cheapening in terms of quality and growing prohibitively expensive in terms of cost.
Our government must stem this rot and put in place an effective regulatory mechanism to foil the rapacious designs of the unscrupulous private players. An effective education policy needs to be evolved to ensure that education is well within the reach of everyone, and even the people of small means can afford to provide the best technical education to their children. Meritorious students should be given preference over the affluent ones. No one should remain deprived of the best type of education only for lack of funds. So, the commercialisation of education must stop forthwith and the government must realise its primary responsibility towards the masses in respect of education and must earmark adequate funds for it.