With the continued degeneration of the educational system in West Bengal over the past four decades, it is now plunged into the deep darkness of despair and resentment. According to the history of education in West Bengal, policymakers from the ruling party are more concerned with transforming education into a political tool than providing young people with a quality education, which leaves them dissatisfied and jobless. Knowledge and skills are regarded as the most valuable resources when it comes to skilled manpower and employment opportunities in the age of globalization.
All these traits are learned through proper education and training. And to achieve that, we want an efficient educational system that is made up of three key elements: eager students, qualified teachers, and a conducive learning environment. But, given the current unstable environment, it appears to be a difficult endeavour, if not impossible, to get this educational system up and operating again in the near future.
The numerous fraudulent activities of the Ministry of Education and the Government’s sponsorship of these activities amply demonstrate that successive governments regard education as an unprofitable and unproductive enterprise. They were quick to use education for political gain due to their limited political outlook.
A closer analysis reveals that the left-wing Government officials worked extremely hard during their term to make education a factor that would support their electoral politics. As a result, they implemented a number of unwelcome curriculum modifications, such as dropping English, limiting computer use, and instituting a no-fail policy that rendered the educational system into a farce. Most importantly, they granted state academics the liberty to take part in electoral politics. This made way for West Bengal’s educational cremation trip.
In connection with this, the rules were changed, and the statutes were amended to ensure that members of CPM-sponsored teacher organizations such as ABTA, and ABPTA are included in the Council for Secondary Education and the Council for Higher Education.
As a result, teachers and professors enthusiastically attended Party meetings, joined street demonstrations with Party banners, and engaged in Teachers’ Union activities. Teachers have also sometimes been found to have quietly joined the movement with members of like-minded student organisations. In return, the teachers who supported the ruling party were rewarded in a number of ways – the university professors loyal to the ruling party were nominated as members of the governing body regardless of seniority or eligibility, promotion was smooth and seamless, while they assumed control of numerous college and university committees.
Some unscrupulous people have been given key positions in the School Service Commission, the College Service Commission, and even the Public Service Commission based on party affiliation to facilitate the parties’ clandestine activities. Illegal appointments and blatant nepotism were the focus of the administration. During their rule, party cadres, including one’s own son, daughter, brother, wife, or brother’s wife, were appointed to schools, colleges, and universities independently of merit and talent.
The people of Bengal witnessed the brazen display of flagrant corruption. Curiously, left-wing leaders are now marching the streets for education, talking about competence and merit and shouting slogans against the massive corruption being caused by TMC! What a travesty!
The current Government is vigorously carrying out the immoral acts of the previous Government. Moreover, Group D and Group C category jobs and teaching positions have been sold to unqualified and unworthy individuals for exorbitant sums of money. Political identity and financial arrangements have supplanted academic qualifications in the appointment of vice-chancellors, principals, professors and teachers.
There are also allegations that the current Government has diverted the millions of rupees allocated by the Union Government to colleges and universities. Recently, as a result of the court’s intervention in the corruption related to hiring staff in educational institutions, many high-ranking officials, including ministers, are now in prison, some are out on bail, and many people are spending their sleepless nights in fear. Perhaps this is what happens when sins are fully committed. Apparently, during the tenure of the previous Government and the current Government, educational institutions have become arenas of bribery policies.
Naturally, the responsibility of teaching in schools, colleges, and universities began to be seriously neglected. Thus, education in the classroom gradually receded into the background. Students are allegedly given wrong grades in exams to hide their weaknesses. The quality of education in this state reduces to one of the lowest in the country. On the other hand, decently educated youth spend months of sleepless nights on the streets demanding their legitimate jobs.
Thus, two successive ruling parties have shown examples of inexcusable inhumane negligence that has seriously damaged the educational system in Bengal. According to a group of educators, educational responsibilities are in the wrong hands, and the appointment of teachers with unclear resources, lack of discipline in academic institutions and the wrong choice of subjects in the curriculum are some of the reasons behind the crippled education system in Bengal.
Open your eyes, and you will see that people from all walks of life are articulating their apprehensions and distress in reference to corruption. This has reached a level where it threatens the future of education in general, especially among the youth. It’s not that ordinary people don’t understand the need for education, but the bottom line is affordability. For this reason, parents who can afford the high tuition fees of private schools and colleges choose better private institutions.
However, not everyone can afford an education in a private school, so they tend to prefer public schools and universities. Unfortunately, government indifference and the tendency to shirk responsibility for a good education have devastated the education ecosystem. If society is to be habitable, educating the youth is essential, while a structured and orderly educational system is a necessity to cultivate educated youth.
It is an indisputable truth that in a country like India, only advanced education can transform a large population into an effective human resource.
Although it is true that education is not productive while learning, however, the long-term benefits of a good education are extensive, and its social significance is immeasurable. From this perspective, the central Government has formulated the “National Education Policy-2020” (NEP-2020). In these policy documents, educational institutions are seen as workshops for producing educated, civilized and creative people, in which teachers, students and the learning environment are integral elements.
The NEP-2020 breaks the shackles of the colonial education system and envisions a modern and progressive education system that meets the needs of the modern country. There is no discriminatory understanding of the poor and the proletariat here, but everyone is given the opportunity to get a good education. There are three fundamental obstacles to the implementation of NEP-2020 in Bengal: fragmented political interests within the institutions, inadequate infrastructure incompatible with new education policy, and stereotypical mindset of teachers and students. So, now is the right time to think about a non-political education ecosystem to build a healthy society, a global citizen and a prosperous nation.