Speech at the conference of principals of Colleges affiliated to APS University Dated 05/09/1985

I am indeed happy to be amidst you this day when the nation is celebrating Teachers’ Day in memory of the great teacher and savant Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. I am doubly happy that you are starting a debate on our education policy on this auspicious day.

We are gathered here to discuss our new education policy. Discussions have already been initiated by the Prime Minister and in paper has been presented to the country. In our deliberations, we have to keep in mind what we have achieved so far while discussing the plans we have for the future. It should be possible for us to analyse the difficulties we are facing and the problems we are confronted with. We have only 15 years to enter into the 21st century and with it the third millinnium, great land mark in our history.

There have been quite a few education commissions after independence. The present paper has the benefit of the reports and studies of all of them. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s was the first eport on our system. Later, Dr. Mudaliar went into the subject and prepared a report. Dr. Kothari’s report was a comprehensive review.

You will find that Dr. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Mudaliar mainly concentrated upon one aspect: how to adapt the existing education system to our requirements immediately after freedom. The thrust was on quantitative expansion, bringing literacy within the reach of all men and women by 1960 as envisaged by the Constitution.

Then came the Kothari report proposing to give a new direction, giving a new vocational turn to the system so that elementary education could be the terminal point in and our general education. The 10+2 course was suggested by Dr. Kothari with view to diversification vocationalisation. In the post 1965 period, we began our efforts to make the educational system relevant to the needs of the country on the basis of the Kothari Commission recommendations.

When we look back, we find that not much has been done to give the proposed direction to our educational system. True, there are a large number of Engineering Colleges and Medical Colleges and a good number of professionals have been produced them. But, very little attention was paid to the vocational bias to be given to education after the 10+2 stage. Many States, including Madhya Pradesh, have not even introduced this system. Naturally, the expected results have not been achieved. So in higher education we are faced with a peculiar situation : the mismatching of the degrees with employment. Education has made the alumini aliens to traditional employment and they are unable to find employment for which their training has prepared them.

Let us take school education when we attained independence, the number of school-going children was about 2.2 million. We now have 34 million children attending schools. Numerically they have increased nearly seventeen fold. The number of students in colleges has also similarly increased. But the unfortunate situation is that nearly 40% of our schools do not have black boards. Nearly 10 per cent do not have buildings. What kind of teaching is possible in schools without buildings, equipment or facilities?

Another problem facing us is that despite what we have achieved quantitatively, the total number of illiterates is growing. We had in 1950, 300 million illiterate people, when our population was probably 380 million. Now our population has gone upto 740 million and the number of the illiterate has also gone upto 440 million. This increase in illiteracy is about 150 per cent. At this rate we may have by 2000 A.D. 500 million illiterates, giving our country the dubious distinction of having the largest number of illiterates in the world. So, we have to tackle this problem of great magnitude by mobilising all our resources.

Let us look back at the task of mobilisation of resources. When we attained independence, 25 per cent of the educational institutions were run by private organisations. Today, non-official bodies run only three per cent of all educational institutions while their number has increased over 20 fold.

We are producing a good number of engineers, doctors, scientists and post-graduates in various disciplines. The private sector has been utilising a large number of them without having spent anything on their education or training. It is only fair that industries, private or public, which need them, should pay for their education. Medical institutions utilising the doctors trained by the Government al considerable cost should also be made to pay for the education of the doctors.

This does not mean that the Government can give up their responsibility in this field. The people’s resources will have to be mobilised at all levels. This task has mostly been confined to the State and the Central Governments. We must also associate panchayats in raising the resources and

in the running of our educational institutions. The new leadership has shown that they have the will to do so. Now the people must support the leadership, which is why the educational policy has been placed before the people.

The present educational system has developed its own vested interests. I would classify these into two categories : bureaucratisation and policisation.

When the Government took over the major responsibility of furthering our education, bureaucracy naturally came into the picture in a big way. Bureaucracy is more concerned with postings, promotions, transfers and appointments. In fact, it is bogged down by these. The top bureaucracy should attend to major policy issues and their proper formulation leaving administrative matters to lower ranks. The panchyats should be involved in a big way in managing elementary and primary education. Only coordinated effort can suceed in this sphere.

The other interest, which has overtaken education and is strangulating it, is politicisation. Politics has entrenched itself in almost all Universities. Political parties often take even their street fights to the campuses.

Universities should not be vitiated by politics and this is possible only if teachers and students keep out of active politics. Politicisation has today gone so far that political parties look forward to the campus for recruitment of their cadres. Most of the organisations of teachers and students are unfortunately under the control of political parties. On account of this excessive politicisation, much of the energy of the teacher as well as the students is diverted towards non-academic purposes.

We are making attempts through our Coordination Committee to help our students keep out of politics and street fights. The decision to keep all those persons against whom charges have been framed in courts for heinous offences away from contesting elections in educational institutions has been made in the interests of the students. We are keeping out non-academic persons from University union activities. I would advise the teachers to inspire the students to keep out of politics so that they could pay undivided attention to studies.

Education must be capable of developing the personality of a student. The present system of examinations is not conducive to the development of human personality. Learning by rote at best is a test of memory power; but it cannot develop an questioning which is so essential for intellectual growth. urge for Today, teaching has become a kind of monologue in which the teacher does all the talking by himself. If there is to be a one-way traffic, why should there be a teacher ? Why can’t teaching be done through T.V., radio or video? Teachers are required for a two-way traffic. Teaching is an exercise of minds in which the teacher and the taught together delve deep into the unknown in search of new secrets of nature. The teacher must be always available to the students to help them in their pursuit of knowledge through questioning.

If you introduce a system which encourages the inquisitive nature of students, there will be resistance from the vested interests. There is today a vested interest in private tuitions. There is a vested interest in tutorials. Then there are teachers who do not have the training or equipment or aptitude for their job. They are sure to resist any change. There is yet another group both among teachers and students which benefits from the mal-practices examinations. We have to rool out this evil.

Our Prime Minister wants the country to have education as visualised by Tagore long long ago, before the advent of freedom:

Where the mind is without fear and the

head held high

Where the world has not been broken into

fragments by narrow domestic strife

Into that heaven Father let my country awake.

Our education system should be capable of realizing this prayer.