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Education: Despite chaos and anarchy, Gujarat government has started behaving in a way as if it has no liability at all

Counterview Desk
This is the second article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
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The extent of chaos and anarchy which prevails in the education field is not found in any other sector. Government has started to behave in a way as if it has no liability at all on the educational front. The education in the schools, colleges and universities has been made so much expensive and costly that parents earning income of Rs. 25,000 a month have no option but to incur debts to educate their children.

Primary, secondary and higher secondary education

As per the Report of the Ministry for Human Resources, Government of India, for March 2014, 18% of the pupils studying in primary classes dropped out from classes in the mid-way. Yet, the State Government boasts that the drop out ratio is only 2%.
In Gujarat, during March 2017, 11.80 lakh students appeared for 10th standard exams and 5.30 lakh students appeared for 12th standard exams. During the year 2006-07, 15.83 lakh students sought admission in the 1st standard, which means that during the 1st standard and 10th standard, approximately 26% of students had dropped out in the mid-way. Another 56% students dropped out between 10th and 12th standard. The number of students studying in primary classes during 2013-14 was 92.29 lakhs and the same reduced to 91.42 lakh in the year 2014-15. Thus, during only one year, 87,000 of students dropped-out! 
On the other hand, students studying in the secondary and higher secondary schools during the year 2014-15 was 27.32 lakh. It means that 64.10 lakh students had dropped out in between 8th and 12th standards! Is this the development? During this year itself there were 13.86 lakh students in the higher education. Thus, 13.46 lakh more students had dropped out. It means, between primary education level and higher education level, 77.56 lakh students dropped out.
 In this way, out of 91.42 lakh students in Gujarat, only 13.46 lakh students reached to the higher education level, which is 14.72% as against the all-India figure of 18%. Is this development?
In Gujarat, there are a total of 40,746 primary schools of which private schools are 7,191 and 33,518 are run by the government. Only 72.51 % schools are offering education from 1st to 8th Std. It means that in the 27.49 % of schools do not have the 8th standard. it is a violation of the per the Right to Education Act.
The expenditure incurred in Gujarat during 2012-13 towards pupils studying in primary classes was Rs 14,607 crore but same was Rs 33,667 crores in Kerala. If one takes into consideration expenditure of Rs 21,909 crores towards education in the year 2017-18, and considering the total strength of students as 1.32 crores, average expenditure per student works out to Rs. 16,598. On the other hand, in the context of GDP of the state, this expenditure was merely 1.93% during 2013-14 and 2015-16, and was 1.9 % during 2014-15, whereas the Kothari Commission recommended that it should be enhanced to 6 %. Thus, so much less expenditure is incurred by the Gujarat Government towards education!
There is hardly anything worthy to be qualified as quality education at the primary level in Gujarat. As per a Government’s Report for 2017, out of 34,237 primary schools, only 858 schools have achieved A+ grade, and 11,134 schools have achieved A grade. All other remaining schools are in the C and D category.
The share of privately run schools is on the rise in primary education. In the year 2013-14, out of total number of primary schools, the ratio of private schools was 21.97 %. In the subsequent year, the same rose to 22.64 %, and in the year 2015-16 it increased to 23.17 %. Thus, almost 1/4th primary level schools have become private. Due to that, approximately 50 lakh parents have to bear tremendous economic burden for educating their children. Facts also reveal:

  • In the year 2015-16, 1.27% Government secondary schools and 2.91% higher secondary schoolshad only one Class Room. 
  • 44.54 % of secondary and higher secondary schools did not have any science laboratories. On this count, Gujarat ranks No 18 among all the states of India.
  • 30% of  teachers in the secondary level schools were ad hoc and were not regular or permanent. In the Higher Secondary level,  schools this ratio is 37%.

The Gujarat Government delayed the implementation of the Right to Education Act, 2009 by two years. During the year 2015-16 the number of the secondary and higher secondary schools having Construction Committees was 17.15%,  and ratio of schools having Teachers and Parents Association was only 25.10%.

Higher education

In the world’s best 100 universities, there is one professor for every 16 students, but in the Arts and Commerce colleges of Gujarat, there is 1 professor imparting education for every 85 students.
In Gujarat, students paying different rates of fees are studying in a single college, under the single professor and for similar syllabus! The reason is that, once a specified number of students are admitted, fees are recovered on the ‘self-finance’ basis!
In Gujarat, in the year 2017, for higher education, there were a total of 59 Universities and other institutions. The Government states that it has increased number of the Universities, but only 33 % of the Universities are under Government category and the rest are privately run. Thus, the Government has done all-out and limitless privatization. The Government has opened up its own colleges and Universities but there are no enough professors or adequately designed buildings, and the Government has not allowed to start even a single ‘granted’ college.
The Gujarat Government is reducing the expenditure on the higher education front. Estimate for the year 2017-18 was Rs 1,692 crore. In the year 2016-17 it was a bit more, at Rs 1,695 crore. Thus, during the current year, there has been decline of 1.76%.
The Government wants to suppress and strangulate the voice of professors. In order that the professors either do not make reasonable criticism or may not think of or speak out but quietly dance to the tune of the Government, it has constituted Gujarat State Higher Education Society by passing a law in the state assembly. Before doing it, it made interactions or initiated dialogue with anybody. No discussion was held with professors, students, parents or chancellors of Universities or other associations of Universities. The Society was formed by passing a Bill in the Legislative Assembly in the absence of the Opposition Party, and that too without conducting any kind of discussions, which allows the government to transfer a professor anywhere in the country!
Under this Act, the Society can reverse the decision of any University of the State, including a private University, or can issue instructions to them. Article 15 of the Act stipulates that, based on the Society’s recommendations, or at its own volition, the Society can issue directions to any University for implementing any alterations if it finds necessary. In this Society, the Government itself is supreme and the Chief Minister is Chairman. Thus, it is ironical that the Chief Minister as Chairman gives advice to the Chief Minister of the State! Moreover, provision has been made in the Act that no one can approach the court of law against the decision of the Society. This is a blatant breach of the fundamental right granted under the Constitution!

Technical and medical education

In Gujarat, there are 91 diploma engineering colleges where the fee level ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 41,000. This is an example to illustrate how much is the Government education cheap and how much is the private education is costly.
Steep rise in fees has remained a characteristic feature of Gujarat's technical and medical education. In Gujarat, there are 61 ITIs, which have also seen the steep rise. Thus, it has become very difficult for parents to educate their children in engineering colleges. Number of Government allopathy medical colleges is six, and there are 15 self-financed colleges. In the Government medical colleges, fee is only Rs 6,000. The fee in private medical colleges ranges from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6.38 lakh.
The condition is engineering colleges is as bad. There are 16 government colleges,of which 3 are granted and 2  are in PPP mode. Number of private colleges is 115. The fees in Government colleges ranges from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000, but in private colleges it ranges from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1.51 lakh! Out of total number of 72,000 seats, during the last three years, approximately 25,000 to 30,000 seats lied vacant, because job opportunities are very few in the engineering sector. In the year 2002, a student could become an engineer from any faculty by paying fee of Rs. 4,000, but presently he is required to pay fees up to an amount of Rs. 1,00,000 and even then there is no assurance or guarantee for job.

Government’s educational policy is a root of all evils

More and more privatisation in the educational front has remained a policy of the Gujarat Government. Government itself believes it to be an instrument of business and has made education to be a tool of trade. There is a plethora of self-finance syllabuses in the Government colleges, and Universities. In this way, it smacks of conspiracy to prevent poor students from pursuing studies, or force parents to remain sunk in debts. Moreover, those charitable institutions which were contributing their mite to society, are not doing anything to spread education. They too have been taught by the Government to plunge into business of education.
The Government has not filling up vacancies of teachers. As many as 16,000 posts of teachers and 10,000 posts of professors are lying vacant in higher education. As a matter of fact, immediately on retirement of any teacher or professor, recruitment of a new person should be made but Government believes in imparting education without the teachers! Moreover, there are no adequate clerks or peons in colleges and universities.
When parents launched agitation in protest against very steep hike in fees because they were not included in the Fees Monitoring Committee. It has also been decided that in the cases of self-finance colleges, half of the fees shall be borne by the Government. This means thatm at the cost of public money, private businessmen are being offered the largesse. 
This year, the Government passed Gujarat Self-Financed Schools (Fee) Regulation Act, 2017, which is full of cheating and deception. In a Circular dated 07-04-2017, which the Education Department has issued in the context of this Act, it is mentioned that excess fees charged by schools or colleges over and above that is fixed will not be reimbursed. 
This goes to mean that those schools who had charged fees at the rate of Rs. 15,000, Rs. 25,000 or Rs 27,000 in excess of the fee limit before applicability of the Act will be able to charge fee at the rate more than that fixed after enforcement of this Act. This is a blatant and flagrant cheating and swindling on the part of the Government.

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