Only people who went to government schools should be able to contest elections and apply for government jobs

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
Photo credit: CNS
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia’s well known slogan was that children of President of the country and an attendant should study in the same school. Socialist Party (India) has always advocated for common school system and the concept of neighbourhood school, recommendations of Kothari Commission since 1968. Socialist Party (India) has been intensively running a campaign for the last two years demanding that it should be made compulsory for the children of people receiving salaries from government and all people’s representatives from Panchayat members to Prime Minister to go to government schools. So, it was a welcome surprise on 18 August, 2015 when the Allahabad HC a judgement to this effect.

The court has held the government officials solely responsible for the sorry state of affairs of government schools. It has directed the Chief Secretary of UP to ensure that children/wards of Government servants, semi-Government servants, local bodies, representatives of people, judiciary and all such persons who receive perks, benefit or salary, etc. from Public Exchequer or public fund send their child/children/wards to Primary School run by the UP Board. It further says the appropriate provisions can be made to ensure that child/children/wards of above mentioned categories are compelled to receive primary education in Primary Schools run by the Board. The court could not have been more emphatic. This order will benefit the 90% of children in India who have presently no choice but the attend sub-standard primary schools where there is hardly any teaching. When the quality of these schools will improve only then every child in India will be guaranteed quality education at the primary level.

The court also thinks that such measure will result in boosting social equation by allowing children to poor and rich to study together. The children of poor will get a different kind of atmosphere, confidence and opportunities bringing about a grassroots revolution.

How alarmed and threatened the ruling elite opposed to an egalitarian society must have felt from this order can be gauged from the fact that the petitioner in the case in HC Shiv Pathak has been suspended by the Basic Shiksha Adhikari of Sultanpur. The UP government needs to be condemned for this action.

Socialist Party would like to make this more stringent. It suggests that only those people who have studied at government schools and who sent/are sending their children to government schools should be allowed to contest elections for any public posts and only such people should be eligible for any kind of government jobs and government contracts. This would definitely improve the quality of government schools.

The court should also be petitioned to place a ban on coaching institutions. The coaching institutions have seriously deteriorated the quality of school education. The schools should also take responsibility to prepare children for competitive examinations so that they don’t feel the need for any extra coaching.

Once the quality of government schools improves then people will automatically start sending their children to government schools and the private schools will slowly go out of existence. Most countries which have achieved 99-100% literacy rates have done it through government run education programme.

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
21 August 2015
Photo credit: Jittima J/ CNS
(The author is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for emergent leadership (2002) and also the national vice president of Socialist Party (India). He is a noted social activist, has led National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and Asha Parivar, and is a senior columnist for CNS. Follow him on Twitter: @Sandeep4Justice)