Nelson Mandela, the world famous anti-apartheid crusader, had once famously said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Education is also the most important tool by which the development and sophistication of a nation can be gauged. Without education the future of a nation is bound to be doomed. As per Malcolm X “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. Without proper and systematic planning of the education sector we can’t envision a bright future for our coming generations. Even though education and learning is a lifelong and never ending process, as the major component of learning comes from early education (school and college education), it needs to be given special focus and attention. But it’s an irony that the sector on which the future of a nation hangs, doesn’t get the focus and attention it requires, thanks to electoral politics. Meager budgetary allocations, visionless policies and an insensitive system have wreaked havoc in the field of education. It’s a pity that even after 70 years of independence we find just a few Indian universities and institutions in the list of world class institutions. A country with an enormous human resource pool (more than 65% of country’s population is below the age of 35) finds itself unable to quench the ‘thirst of education’ of its citizens. It is of no surprise to find just a few institutions in the list, as the basic infrastructure is itself in a dilapidated condition.
To drag the education sector out of this mess, investment and focus has to be made by rising beyond electoral compulsions, by all the stakeholders. Long term plans to systematically develop the sector need to be drawn out. The bottlenecks and obstructions which hinder the progress must be identified and addressed. Bringing policy changes wherever required and administering periodical boosters to increase the rate of progress would be helpful in the revival of this sector. The funding of this sector needs to be made in line with defence and internal security.
The pattern in which the developed nations of the world spend on the field of education should be an eye opener for us. Even though it’s difficult to spend 6% of GDP on education, as is the case in developed countries, still higher budgetary allocations should be made to revive the sector of education. Apart from allocation, judicious expenditure in various field needs to be ensured. Balancing the spending on basic education and higher education should be also be ensured.
One more problem which haunts the field of education is the skill of students. According to Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) out of all children in Standard VIII, 27% were unable to read a Standard II level text, while 42% children in the age group of 14-18 couldn’t carry out basic tasks like reading simple sentences in English and 57% were unable to solve a 3 digit by 1 digit sum. More than half i.e., 58% couldn’t recognize their state on the map of India while 36% were unable to correctly name the capital of the country.
When it comes to the implementation of RTE, the less said is better. Enrolment needs to be stepped up and the other promises made in the RTE Act need to be fulfilled.
The Telangana movement which rode to its culmination banking heavily on the youth factor seems to have neglected the education sphere after the formation of Telangana. Even though there have been praiseworthy initiatives, there is still more to be done in this regard. The promise of free KG to PG education remains still unfulfilled.
Here are some of the major issues and subsequent demands of the state which are related to education and student community of the state.
Present state of affairs in Telangana
Government is allocating a meagre single digit percentage of GSDP towards Education
The Government of Telangana allocated a meagre 1.6% of GSDP towards education in 2017-18.The expenditure of the Education department in Telangana has been revised down by 4.1% over the past years .It has been noted that Telangana budgeted to spend the lowest on Education i.e., 8.2% of total expenditure, which is even lower than that Andhra Pradesh (15.1%),Bihar (15.8 %) and Chhattisgarh (19.5 %).We recommend Government should allocate 20% of its Annual state Budget and 10% of Central Budget on Education.
No commission for a comprehensive study of Education sector
Telangana is a new state with several dreams and aspirations to be achieved .This development, for any state, is dependent on the status of Education and literacy, the budget spent on it and the schemes designed for it. However, it is not possible to give education its due share without a comprehensive understanding of the ground realities. A commission needs to be set up to study extensively the state of Education, literacy rate(male and female), human development index, dropout from schools and colleges, enrollment rate in higher studies etc.and the influence of various parameters viz. social, cultural, economic backgrounds of the people of Telangana and propose the suggestive measures to be taken up by the Government.
Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society (TMRIES) is running without a minority Sub-plan
The inception of TMRIES by the Government of Telangana is a welcome step. However, its stable and developing future must be guaranteed. This can be achieved by a promising gesture of the Government, of creating a Minority sub-plan and inclusion of TMREIS under it.
Vacancies unfilled at State Universities
The present gloomy status of the State universities demands serious attention. However, these state Universities receive very small amounts of grants in comparison. Newly established universities in TS and AP don’t have even 20 per cent teachers. The unfortunate thing is that students pursuing higher education in Telugu states lose out because of the lack of faculty. Since the last several years there has been no recruitment in undivided Andhra Pradesh. In 1990 was the last major recruitment in undivided Andhra Pradesh in the state universities including Osmania University.
Student suicide has been a prevailing issue in the country with one student committing suicide every 55 minutes in India. According to a TOI report, since the beginning of academic year in 2017, more than 150 students across the Educational institutions in Hyderabad and elsewhere in districts have committed suicide, with the city alone recording 30 suicides.City psychologists pointed out that in a single class, there are currently 20% of students suffering with anxiety and depression due to parental, academic and peer pressure.
The case of Muslim reservation in Telangana
Muslims in Telangana have a higher than average literacy but worse than all other communities on graduate and post graduate. STs and Muslims top the list of those who have large population that have never attended any educational institutions. The STs have the highest 17% of male that never attended in the age group of 0-29 years. Muslim have the second highest 16% who have never attended any educational institutions. Among Muslims overall 60 % population of age 24 years and above are secondary level educated followed by 19 % primary educated. Only 2% have any post-graduation degree. Hence, Sudhir Committee recommendation with regard to 12% Muslim reservation policy should reflect in Government policies.
Student Union Elections
Being a state with a high youth population, there are several people who believe that students should participate in politics. Student unions are important as they act as a mediator between the administration and the student population and because they have the power to work for the welfare of the students. Central Universities present in the state are annually electing their Unions peacefully and democratically, but in the state universities it has been banned after the murder of Devender Yadav, a student leader of NizamCollege, in 1988. SIO demands for restoration of Student Union Elections in state universities.
Special Focus to backward districts of Telangana
Three districts each from TS figure in the list of 115 backward districts notified by the Centre as lagging in education, health, nutrition, basis infrastructure like rural road connectivity rural household electrification, access to potable water and individual toilets. The list was drawn up in consultation with the NITI Aayog.Thethree backward districts of are Bhupalapally, Asifabad and Khammam. Special Educational Program, with the help of Centre, should be designed for the development of the above districts.
In the light of these problems, SIO Telangana presents before the government some demands to be met in the upcoming 2019 assembly elections.
- Government should facilitate free education from KG to PG through Government Institutions.
- Instead of 1:30 teacher- pupil ratio as directed by RTE 2009 we demand one class one teacher for primary level schools to improve quality education among poor students of government schools.
- Government should allocate 20% of its annual state budget and 10% of central budget on education
- Conduct Mega DSC(teacher’s recruitment) in first year of formation of government and immediate appointment of the teachers who have been selected in the DSC (teacher’s recruitment) conducted this year.
- De-reservation of backlog posts with immediate effect particularly for Urdu medium government schools of plain and agency area.
- Infrastructures in government schools must be as per the need of school such as i) sufficient class rooms ii)electricity iii)computer lab iv)science lab v)clean drinking water vi) boundary wall vii) sports kit viii) toilets for boys and girls separately with running water facility.
- Government should complete construction of all TMREIS buildings as early as possible.
- Fee structure committee should be framed in the first year of formation of government and regularize the norms of fee in private schools
Higher Secondary Education
- Government should take serious measures against the prevailing issues of suicide, anxiety and depression especially present among Intermediate students of the state due to academic, parental and peer pressure.
For the above issue, Government should initiate the monthly visits of Psychiatrist and Medical Intermediate colleges.
- Government should provide free competitive exam training like NEET, IIT JEE, EAMCET etc. for SC, ST and BC students in all district headquarters.
- The number of seats intake in MBBS/MD/MS should be increased for the colleges across the state.
- Career Guidance initiatives to explore different fields of Higher Education apart from Technical and Medical Sciences.
- Skills development programs should be taken-up by the government.
Higher Education and State-Universities
- Teaching and Non –Teaching vacancies at State Universities should be filled within 100 days after the formation of government.
- Government should establish two new state level universities at Adilabad and Khammam districts.
- Allocation of funds to the Higher Education should be increased. The fund allocated in the budget of 2017-2018 was only meagre amount of 420 corers; While Osmania University itself requires 800 crores for its smooth functioning.
- For effective growth, utilization and management of local natural resources, center for research and excellence should be established. (e.g. Center of research and development on red sandals, national institute of textile industry etc.)
- Memorandum of Understanding should be signed between the Universities and R&D center to enhance the research and innovation.
- Following the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Commission, the Student Politics and elections should be allowed in campuses.
- The Government should put in place a ‘Sub-plan’ for Muslims to be prepared as part of the state budget to ensure that all departments provide adequate funds for welfare of Muslims and to prevent diversion to departments.
- Sudhir Committee recommendation with regard to reservation policy should reflect in Government policies.
- Special focus and educational plan for NITI Ayog declared backward districts of Telangana namely Asifabad(the second most backward district in India after Mewat of Haryana), Khammam and Bhupalapally.
(This has been prepared by Students Islamic Organisation Telangana Zone as Students Manifesto for the Assembly Elections 2019. The Companion has published it to further the debate on education).