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Every year on November 11, India celebrates National Education Day. The day also commemorates the birth anniversary of India’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He was a literary figure and during his lifetime he emphasised on development of quality education and provision for compulsory education to all children upto 14 years of age. India has seen great educationists like Maulana Azad, former late President Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad, Pandita Ramabai, Pt. Nehru etc. The teacher’s day is also celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvapalli Radha Krishnan. It has been the tradition of India to celebrate significant National days in the name of popular Indian stalwarts. But is it really enough for the state, to only celebrate the National days by remembering and acknowledging the contributions and commitments made by some of the great personalities without serving the real purpose for what they stood for? India celebrates the National Education Day but what about the decaying conditions of educational institutions interms of lack of permanent teachers and professors to teach students in central universities, the poor conditions of libraries, non-availability and mostly, rotting conditions of books and lack of furnished infrastructure buildings of schools, colleges and universities, swarming of adhoc teachers from past several years in colleges particularly, under the premier central universities like the University of Delhi? What about the lack of sanitation and hygiene, lack of toilet facilities particularly, in government schools? The aspirants of competitive examinations like UPSC and NET have over the years encountered such horrible lack of sanitation and toilet facilities particularly, in government schools. Absence of toilet facilities is another root cause for not sending female students to schools and colleges in rural areas. Just think about, how can menstruating girls attend schools and colleges, if adequate sanitation and toilet facilities are not available?

The state is focusing much on the building of public universities, collaboration with other central universities of the world. Recently, so much noise on developing skill programmes in India, establishment of public-private partnership institutions, solely private universities etc but is it not necessary, to maintain the state of already existing schools, colleges and universities? It is shameful today, to see the pitiable conditions of some of the prestigious universities like the Patna University in terms of lack of permanent teachers, decaying infrastructure building, poor education facilities, followed by the poor state of other universities like the Haryana Central University, universities of Madhya Pradesh, colleges belong to other state universities especially, in the remotest parts of India including the lack of schools, college infrastructures and education facilities in the North-East region too. Are these Universities like the Nalanda, BHU, Allahabad still retaining the same glory and status as they used to attain at some point of time? It is extremely pitiable that after long ages of centuries, the state is only recently restored the infrastructure building of the Nalanda University in Bihar. But it is still a long way for India to retain the lost glory and status of Nalanda as one of the first premier centres of higher learning among Asian countries that it used to be in ancient times. In contemporary times the focus of the state is much on the development of science and technology, development of premier institutes like IIT’s, IIM’s, AIIMS which are quite popular. Replicas of these institutions are built to garner public interests, students interests even worldwide. Huge funds are allocated to maintain the standards and beautification of these institutes. As compared to these institutions, the other colleges and universities are not in advanced conditions. There is a dichotomy exists between different kinds of educational institutes and universities, even between state and central universities. Recently, the ongoing series on the state of Indian universities telecast by NDTV Prime Time is actually exposing the shameful and dilapidating conditions of Indian universities across the country. The series are highlighting the over the years neglected stories of these Universities. What could be more annoying is that either the state education ministry, the MHRD is shockingly unaware or lack in funds, interests towards such issues. It would be interesting, to know what made them neglecting such issues of renovating the infrastructures and educational system. It is actually a matter of National debate and discussion. It is high time that the state should take not only the provisions of availability of primary, secondary and higher education across the country seriously, but also at the same time, it must be the priority of the state to improve and uplift the decaying conditions as mentioned above of the already established schools, colleges and universities too inorder to achieve an overall development of education in India. The alumnus of these decaying universities who are settled in good positions in academics, politics, bureaucracy, higher echelons, MHRD serving the state must come forward and work in solidarity for the betterment and development of higher learning and education system. It should not be forgotten that a huge section of students belong to the poor and middle class families who can only afford to have dreams of having education in the government schools, colleges, state and central universities. The poor and the marginalized section of society must be thankful for voluntary organisations and NGO’s working to provide education to their children. Smile Foundation is one of those organisations working for the needy people. It is the responsibility of the state to fulfill the dreams of needy students to have education by offering good institutes and centres of higher learning with required facilities and thereby, to develop the human resource of the country. To demand right to education is fundamental and to provide it is one of the functions of any democratic country.

Education is a fundamental right of every citizen and it is the responsibility of the state to provide with adequate educational facilities like employing permanent teachers, regularising their salaries and pensions, providing good infrastructure buildings, renovating libraries, providing sanitation and toilet facilities, providing liberal space for students engagement in debates and discussions in universities across the country. The overall development of educational sector, human resource and celebration of the National Day of Education is incomplete without fulfilling these requirements. Mere creating awareness on education by celebrating a particular day will not suffice.

Meenakshi Gogoi is a PhD candidate in JNU, Delhi

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One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Nominal celebrations of ‘ education day ‘ may not yield any concrete result. The problems relating to infrastructure and funding of education should be given proper attention.

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