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NEW DELHI: “An unthinking and hasty step to meet the artificial deadline of 100 days set by the Prime Minister could create confusion in the education system without achieving anything.”
This was the comment of the former Minister for Human Resource Development in the Vajpayee government, Murli Manohar Joshi, on the plan to do away with the Class X board examination unveiled by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.
Mr. Joshi said on Friday that there was urgent need to improve the primary education system at the village level, instead of tinkering with higher secondary education. He also criticised the plan, as State governments and bodies such as the Central Advisory Board for Education were not consulted or even asked for their views.
Mr. Joshi confirmed that BJP president Rajnath Singh had asked him to convene a meeting of Education Ministers of the States ruled by the BJP and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance. He said he had talked to NDA convener on the issue.
He made it clear that if the details of the plan were good, the BJP would have no objection to supporting or welcoming it; Mr. Joshi himself favoured a grading system rather than a percentage system for evaluating students. But as of now, it seemed it was an effort towards setting up a uniform all-India Board for higher secondary school examinations, and this was “not doable.” Even in a large State like Uttar Pradesh, there were problems in setting up one board, he said.
The real problem was the shortage of seats at every higher step of education, which resulted in higher cut-offs and created tension for parents and students. Sometimes it was the parents who ignored children’s aptitude or lack of it, and pushed them to get engineering or medical college admission “when a child may want to be, for example, a journalist.”
Demanding that the Yash Pal Committee report be made public and a national debate conducted on it, Mr. Joshi pointed out that the suggestions of old committees like the Kothari Committee were not implemented, and hence, there should be no tearing hurry to make drastic changes without thinking things through. Mr. Joshi referred to Mr. Sibal’s plans for a public-private partnership in the education sector, and wondered whether this was the start of the government washing its hands of all responsibility for education. On foreign varsities entering India and setting up collaborative ventures with universities here, he said the best universities like Yale, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge were not rushing in here.
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