Review Article

‘Education under Globalisation’

R Mukherjee

*Education under Globalisation : Burial of the Constitutional Dream
By Neeraj Jain
Aakar Books, Delhi, 2015

Education is a much talked about subject in India. But there are a few books which go to the roots of the matter and expose the problem that affects the Indian society so adversely.

The *book under review has fifteen chapters arranged in historical perspectives and development planning in the country. The first chapter deals with the present state of education in the country, chapter 2 is devoted to remind of the dreams of the founding fathers and their struggle for "education for all" during the pre-independence period. The economic policies adopted in India after independence, popularly known as the mixed economy model or the Nehruvian model, are examined in chapter 3 and in this backdrop, the writer takes a look at the educational policies adopted in the country during the 1950s and 1970s. The Nehruvian model became crisis ridden by the 1970s. In chapter 4 the reasons have been analysed and the factors that pushed India's ruling elites to begin their work under globalisation of the Indian economy in 1991 and adopt neoliberal economic policies.

The impact of globalisation on elementary education has been examined in chapter 5. In 2009, the Indian parliament passed the Right to Education Act. The Government of India claims that with the passage of this act, all children in the country now have 'a fundamental right to education', the author examines this claim in chapter 6. In chapter seven he takes an insight look at how the passage of RTE has cleared the way for accelerated commercialisation of the elementary education system in the country.

Chapters 8-12 are devoted to discussing the higher education system in the country, while the chapters 8-9 discuss the condition of education in the British Colonial period and under the Nehruvian period. Chapters 10-12 speak about the impact of neo-liberal winds blowing across the country on the higher education system : the world Bank conditionalities and the sharp reduction in Government spending on higher education through the 1990s (chapter 10), the rapid growth of the private sector in higher education and the transformation of higher education into a lucrative business (Chapter 11) and the introduction of new bills in the parliament by the Government to facilitate the growth of the Private sector, including foreign universities in higher education (chapter 12). The problems and obstacles to free, compulsory and good quality education have been discussed in Chapters 13 and 14.

The author delves deep and provides readers with a comprehensive historical account on education and shows its position in the present day market economy. According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) under the Government there were roughly 11 lakh elementary schools in the country in 2010, of which 87000 are what the Government calls non-formal education centres under the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS). The condition of these schools is not satisfactory as not only is there an acute shortage of teachers, states appoint para-teachers or contractual teachers en masse. There were more than 8 lakh contractual teachers in all schools (12.16 percent of all teachers), of which 4.4 lakh teachers were in primary schools. Para-teachers are appointed by various state Governments in a very arbitrary way and there is no parity between states on their qualification norms, training requirements, pay scale and other service requirements. According to DISE data, more than 45 percent of para-teachers are not even professionally qualified.

The DISE survey of 2010-2011 found that around 1 lakh elementary schools in the country did not even have drinking water facilities; and in an additional 1.9 lakh schools, the drinking water facilities were not functional at all, a whopping 21 percent of all elementary schools did not have functional drinking water facilities.

Around 2 lakh, or 16 percent of all elementary schools did not have toilet facilities in 2010-2011, while in many schools, the toilet facilities existed only in name, 40 percent of the schools did not have usable toilet facilities.

Given this condition in the education arena, it is therefore no wonder that the all India Annual Status of Education (ASER) survey of 2012 by the Delhi based NGO, Pratham, found that 63 percent of class 5 students were unable to read class 2 level text while 47 percent of class 5 children could not solve simple two-digit subtraction problems with borrowing. More than 75 percent of children enrolled in class 5 could not do division problems. Not only that, ASER data show that over the years, learning levels are declining.

It glaringly shows that even though only 60 percent of students enrolling in class I complete class eight, and 50 percent complete class ten, which are rather low figures, in reality the percentage of the children who can be considered to have truly completed basic schooling is much lower than the proportion shown.

The author puts the crux of the problem and recollects the efforts of raiding demand for free and compulsory education by the social reformers of nineteenth century. He refers to Gandhi's Hind Swaraj (1908), which says "To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them. The foundation that Macaulay laid of education has enslaved us". One cannot really criticise teaching of English language as the cause of slavery of the people, and fate of the "national education" scheme outlined by him was worse.

The author's study is very cogent to note that the few decades after independence saw rapid growth in the education system. By 1988-89, the education system in India employed 4.2 million teachers and enrolled 154 million students in 776,000 institutions. The primary education system was the largest sector in the education system, accounting for nearly 62 percent of the total students and teachers and 70 percent of the educational institutions.

Earlier, in 1937 Gandhi thought about it and prepared a scheme of basic education (Nai Talim) but it could not be implemented by the Government. It first appointed a commission for university education in 1948 and then another for secondary education in 1952. The first commission to examine comprehensively almost all aspects of the education system was set up by a Government resolution dated July 14,1964, after Nehru's death. The Commission submitted its report in 1966 and it aimed to create a democratic, secular and egalitarian society, which would be based on science and spiritual values and wherein the evils of poverty, ignorance and ill-health would be eliminated through humane use of scientific and technical knowledge. It emphasised the critical role of education in social and economic development, and observed that education "determines the level of prosperity, welfare and security of the people". The Government however examined its recommendations in a piecemeal manner. While accepting some of its recommendations, such as the suggestion to set up what is known as the 10 + 2 + 3 structural pattern of education it trashed its most important recommendations. Commission recommended for two important institutions viz. (1) setting up a common school system, and (2) education in Indian languages. The Commission stated "History shows numerous instances where small social groups and elites have used education as a prerogative of their rule and as a tool for maintaining their hegemony and perpetuating values upon which it has rested". The Commission further stated, "It is hardly necessary to emphasise that the development of the Indian languages is both urgent and essential for the development of the Indian people and as a way of bringing together the elite and the masses. It can make scientific and technical knowledge more easily accessible to the people in their languages and thus help not only in progress of industrialisation but also in the wider dissemination of science and scientific outlook...."

The Kothari Commission observed that "if education is to develop adequately", the proportion of GDP allocated to education must rise from 2.9 percent in 1965-66 to 6 percent in 1985-86. Its recommendation has been endorsed later by the International Commission on Education (Delors Commission) in its report submitted to the UNESCO in 1996. Overall, India's public expenditure on education rose from 0.7 percent of GDP in 1951-52 to 4.3 percent in 1991-92 to 4.2 percent in 2011-2012. However, the most important development is that the expenditure on elementary education as a proportion of the total plan outlays drastically fell from 56 percent in 1951-56 to 29 percent in 1985-90.

For secondary education it rose from 13 to 16 percent in those periods .Outlay on university education grew from 9 percent in 1951-56 to 12 percent in 1985-90.Outlays on technical education for those in the same periods were 13 and 11 percents. Expenditure on other, including teacher education, vocational and adult education, social education, cultural programmes etc. was 9 percent in 1951-56 which rapidly increased to 33 percent in 1985-90.

The assault on the huge government school education system began with the launch of the World Bank-sponsored District Primary Education Programne (DPEP) in 1993-94. Beginning with 42 districts in seven states in Phase I, the DPEP had steadily spread its coverage to almost half of India's districts (about 260 districts) in 18 states by the time its third and the last phase was initiated in 2002-2003. DPEP external fund as a proportion of the total expenditure on education in India increased from 0.91 percent in 1999-2000 to 1.36 percent in 2001-2002.

Against the declining importance and great damping impact in the elementary education, there has taken place a sizeable growth of private education system and rapid advance of higher education in the public and private sectors of the country's secondary education.

The author, in this context, outlines the extension of the design of colonial British Education policy to replace the indigenous education system in India. The present dispensation continues the same trend of affecting the constitution's avowed policy of imparting equity and social justice with a uniform system of primary education in the country. Despite the lofty objectives of higher education voiced by Nehru and other leaders, India's higher education system was never really able to break out of the Macaulayan mould set by the British Colonial power. Further he relates the neo-liberal winds that adversely coerce the country's education system through 1980s. Private aided and private unaided higher educational institutions play in India a very important part as regards the number of institutions and enrolment.

Education has turned to be a great sphere of investment by the vested interests and this, has caused great division, differentiation and more disparity in India society.

The book under review may be viewed as extension and substantiation of his earlier work 'Globalisation or Recolonisation', objectively studies the course of development in the present historical process, explaining the vile interest and motive of the ruling class in the field of education.

The book is a mine of information and interested readers undoubtedly will find it as a definite contribution to the subject and source of knowledge.

Vol. 49, No.21, Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2016