Educating To Combat Corruption
It is impossible to combat corruption without beginning a massive cleansing drive in the system of education from schools to higher education. One often recalls a sentence from the National Policy of Education 1986/92, which says it all: no people can rise above the level of their teachers! Education was, and is still, supposed to be the key that could reverse the ever-growing tide of corruption. Obviously, such a universal expectation assumes the presence of teachers who are role models, committed, competent and realise that they are preparing the next generation.
These teachers are supposed to let their children learn by observing them, the way they conduct themselves professionally and as human beings. The next generation under their charge has to contribute in a very complex corruption-laden world of work in which every step initiated by the government in the name of meeting people’s need and towards ameliorating their grievances has invariably results in opening floodgates for infliction of more corruption on the ‘beneficiaries’!
Except for the select and privileged few, it’s impossible to locate individuals who got a plot purchased and registered; got permission to open a school or hospital, got a driving license, a ration card or a BPL card, or the like without passing through the ‘extra input’ gate.
We have all experienced it, suffered it and have participated in it in some way or the other. The 2011 response to anti-corruption movement was a spontaneous eruption of anger, anguish and agitation that had an all-engulfing presence in the country. Sadly enough, that hope has declined, if not rather vanished.
What are the alternatives before the people if the successive governments lack competence and will to hold the hand of the aam aadami and give him his due? For the system of governance, the solution to tackle every issue and concern is to formulate regulations and enact more legislation. Unfortunately, in such a climate even enlightened individuals often fall prey to this approach. The initial surge of support for the Lokpal Bill illustrates this point.
A very significant aspect was forgotten rather totally. When Anna Hazare succeeded in Ralegaon Siddhi, it was a localised action and transparency dominated every thought and action. It was neither meant to be a national initiative nor planned that way.
The historic Dandi March initially generated great apprehensions even amongst close associates of Gandhiji. Its nation-wide success was not based on media support but on the real participation of the aam aadami, which was duly readied by Gandhiji by the persona of the Mahatma! Every leader in each state or district enjoyed unsullied reputation for honesty, integrity, devotion and willingness to sacrifice for a cause.
The Dandi March did not require initiation in Delhi, Calcutta or Bombay of those days. One has sufficient historical inputs to believe that Gandhiji’s words and insistence on bearing Khadi were transmitted to every nook and cranny of the country primarily by the primary teachers! And where are the primary teachers now?
As per government reports 58.16 lakh children are in schools learning from 58.56 lakh teachers in 13 lakh schools. Further in 2010-11, 907951 teachers’ posts were lying vacant in primary schools. In most of the states, 25 per cent of the teachers are para teachers, mostly without any teacher training.
A teacher eligibility test was conducted by the state of UP for the first time. The top officer and his several other senior officers were arrested for corruption. Allegations of political interference and departmental corruption in teacher recruitment pour in from most of the states at regular intervals.
The sad state of affairs is also amply illustrated by the fact that the number of teacher training institutions rose from 2,491 in March, 2001 to 14,792 in March 2010! The entire country knows how approvals for various stages from central regulatory body to state government or affiliating university could be and were indeed obtained.
Lakhs of student teachers invariably learn two compulsory lessons: how their college got affiliation, and how they have been charged two to three times more fees than what has been notified by the government! Within days they learn how to get the desired percentage of marks. In such a climate, it would be futile to expect the learners to pay any effective heed to topics like human values, democratic values and need to follow a value-based approach to life.
One wonders why the policymakers get worried about FDI, foreign campuses in India and such similar concerns rather than focusing on eradicating corrupt practices in education and most prominently in teacher preparation institutions! While the institutional world of the student teacher is full of negatives mentioned above; the external world is totally governed by the leaders who unashamedly believe in creating their vote-catching areas on the basis of religions and caste.
Some of them amass monies in short intervals and their first destination of assured investment is education followed by health. In India, we have now chancellors and vice-chancellors of private universities that function family enterprises, treat faculty members shabbily and practically create conditions on the campus which would find no place in a genuine institution of higher learning. The negative inputs that make fun of honesty and integrity impact the young persons in their sensitive years and last a lifetime
If the national debate on corruption could help delineate value nurturance and development in education system as the top priority, it would be a great step ahead to support the last man in the line. Though not the only step necessary, it could turn the tide and impact every sector because of its multiplier potential.
By JS Rajput