Thanks to Autar Nehru and Summiya Yasmeen for their informative cover story on IGNOU (EW April). Because governments in New Delhi and the states have criminally neglected investment and capacity building in education — particularly higher education — wasting taxpayers’ money on public sector enterprises and useless government servants, IGNOU offers the only hope of India attaining its target of 15 percent GER in higher education by 2015.
But unfortunately IGNOU hasn’t built itself a good reputation. The general impression is that it provides low-cost, low-quality education. Vice chancellor Dr. Rajasekharan Pillai should devote more time to addressing this problem and raise the public profile of this excellent but under-sold institution, which is doing the public and nation a great service. Keep such good features coming!
This is in response to your thought-provoking letter from the editor (EW April). You have rightly said that “enactment of the RTE Bill marks the crossing of an important milestone in our long march to secure QEFA (Quality Education for All)”.
The legislation to enable children aged between six-14 years to receive free elementary education is indeed a splendid initiative in a country where the aam aadmi pays little attention to children’s education. The RTE Act, 2009 is creditable and perhaps the most significant piece of legislation passed by the UPA government. The provision for reservation of 25 percent seats in private schools for poor neighbourhood children is also a step in the right direction. Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal has rightly said that “We are set for an educational transformation in India.”
Legislation of the RTE Act is an important milestone in achieving universal primary education and it will take India to greater heights.
Vinod C. Dixit
I was shocked to read in your special report ‘Sixty-third disapp-ointment for Indian education’ (EW April) that a mere Rs.42,036 crore has been allo-cated by the finance minister to educate India’s 450 million children. This is no where close to the estimate of Rs.99,908 crore calculated as needed by Prof. Seetharamu to equip government schools with laboratories, lavatories, libraries, computer labs, additional classrooms, kitchen sheds, and drinking water. Moreover no allocation has been made in the budget for implementation of the historic Right to Education Act.
Quite obviously the prime minister doesn’t believe in matching his rhetoric (“I am what I am because of education”) with actual allocations of money. I’m afraid your ‘Call to conscience’ letter will have little impact on the PM who like all politicians doesn’t believe in walking the talk. The RTE Act will remain a pious intent without substantial budgetary allocations.
Re your editorial on the Union Budget 2010 (EW April), I fully second your suggestion that the finance minister should tax industry, particularly the IT industry, to raise revenues rather than impose higher petrol and diesel taxes. I wonder why the highly profitable IT industry which has enjoyed tax-free status for over nine years has become such a sacred cow of the finance ministry?
The major IT companies have been making profits running into thousands of crores year on year. But even after Infosys chief N. R. Narayana Murthy himself suggested that it is high time the IT industry started paying income tax like everybody else, nothing has happened on this front.
Instead customs and excise duties on crude oil and diesel — which will definitely have a cascading effect on food and consumer prices — have been raised. I can’t imagine where finance minister Mukherjee learnt his economics!
Private sector cooperation needed
I refer to your letter from the editor (EW April). The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE) is indeed a landmark in the history of India. It is now obligatory for the State (Central, state and/or local governments) to enrol every child between age six-14 in a neighbourhood school free of charge. In due course, this provision of free education should be extended to secondary level, as class XII certification is the minimum qualification required to secure a job. Also there should be enough colleges and universities to absorb students passing out of schools.
However the goal of ensuring every child is in school cannot be attained without private sector cooperation. Therefore to encourage promotion of schools by private entrepreneurs, the government must give them tax breaks and financial incentives.
Mahesh Kapasi on e-mail
Accountancy teaching video
I’ve prepared an audio-video CD detailing innovative ways of teaching accountancy to students. Some of these videos are available free of charge on the internet (www.youtube.com), and have been appreciated by students.
For most students, accountancy is a very difficult subject to comprehend. Through my video lectures I want to help students understand the subject better, and enable teachers to improve their teaching methods. Interested teachers can mail me at vinod0050@ yahoo.com.
The Lawrence School, Sanawar