Govt needs to streamline the system before pushing for educational empowerment of minorities

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Editorial

Thomas Lim
Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced that Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, led by Narendra Damodardas Modi will be launching a campaign - Tehrik-e-Taalim (campaign for education) - to educationally empower the poor and marginalised sections of the society on the occasion of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s 86th birth anniversary on October 15. The campaign will be launched in 100 districts across the country, which have been identified as lacking in education awareness.
The campaign will be establishing five “world class” educational institutions across the country; the new institutes will be imparting education in the fields of technology, medical, Ayurveda, Unani and others.

A high-level committee, constituted to frame the roadmap, including places where these institutes will be established, will soon submit its report. Central government’s target is to start academic sessions in these institutes from 2018; with proposed 40 percent reservation for girls in these institutions.
Naqvi also said the ministry will be promoting artisans and craftsmen by providing them markets through organising “Hunar Haats” across the country, to organise such events, in every state. Several states have come forward to provide land for the project.
Union Minister for Minority Affairs also informed that next ‘Hunar Haat’ will be organised at Puducherry, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Gauhati, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, the last two such haats held in Delhi witnessed a cumulative footfall of over 33 lakh.
Besides spreading awareness about education and various government schemes, Modi government will be building schools and educational institutions to develop educational infrastructure in these areas. An Ustaad Samman Samaroh will be launched during Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya birth centenary celebrations, to felicitate and honour artisans and craftsmen from minority communities.
About 100 Navoday Vidyalaya type schools will also be opened in minority concentrated areas in the coming months, as Centre’s policy of empowerment without appeasement which has created an atmosphere of development and trust among the minorities. Naqvi claimed government has been successful in bringing the poor, backward and weaker sections of the minorities into the mainstream of the development through “3Es” — education, employment and empowerment.
All such claims do look glossy in files and papers, whereas, in ground zero, particular in the state of Meghalaya, Minister of School Education and Literacy, Deborah Marak informed the State Assembly during the last Budget Session that nearly a lakh children have either dropped out or never enrolled in schools in the State during the past.
Also, while replying to the To a Supplementary raised by Mahendraganj legislator, Dikkanchi D Shira (Congress) on the main causes that led to such problem, the minister pointed economic condition of rural masses, repeated failures, poor infrastructures and others.
Deborah indicated that the total number of identified school drop-outs and those never enrolled is 97,089 from 2013-2017. Out of this, 33,557 have been identified during the year 2013-14, 31,276 in 2014-15, 14, 957 in 2015-16 and 17, 299 in 2016-17.
However, it is not that only through the reply of the Minister, the August House realized that economic and poor infrastructures have leads to the deteriorating state of education, especially the elementary education in Meghalaya. It was known even in the past, but successive government did nothing to revive the glory of the state as the Hub of Education.
Under such circumstances, the Education Department of Meghalaya, which always hit the headlines for the wrong reason, should also take advantage of Central Schemes, as highlighted by Naqvi. The achievements of the ministry in the last three years of Modi’s government includes scholarships worth Rs 4,740 crore were given to 1.82 crore students besides contributing towards infrastructure development including building 33 colleges, 97 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), 16 polytechnic institutes, 1,102 school buildings and 1952 drinking water facilities.
Also 47,986 pucca (concrete) houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and provisioning of 17,434 hand pumps/water tanks and wells has been made across the country for Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis — the six notified minority communities.
Also, in the last three years, over 5.2 lakh youths, including about 40 per cent women, have been covered under various job-oriented skill training schemes of the ministry at an expenditure of Rs 578 crore.
Meghalaya never figures in any of the schemes for the last three years. The state government should prepare the Detailed Project Report for inclusion in the educational empowerment of minorities or for infrastructural development of such schools as pointed out by Minister of School Education and Literacy of Meghalaya during the Budget Session of 2017.
The Modi Government more than projection of any schemes for educationally empowering the poor and marginalised sections of the society, should focus on improving the existing education system, or streamline the government funded educational institutions, and also regulate the private schools, especially in the area of fees which are sky-high. The Central government should focus on Inclusive Education more than further dividing the societies through the toddlers at the kindergarten level itself.


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