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Waiting for freedom in education

The Centre for Civil Society hosted its 6th Annual School Choice National Conference on Friday at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Freedom in Education’.

Various organisations working in the education space have been advocating for freedom in education. The concept of freedom in the educational context is quite vast and has multiple aspects to it including curricular freedom, freedom to private and independent educators to run schools etc. The conference addressed critical issues like who are the beneficiaries/ stakeholders in education, what we mean by ‘freedom’, what are the things that undermine freedom, what are the policies that promote freedom and what role does the state play in the same?

In his opening address, Secretary to Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh Parthasarathy Sen Sharma, said that “there is a delink between policy and research which is affecting the sector and this gap needs to be urgently bridged by platforms like this.” Further elaborating on the idea of choice and freedom, he said that there is an inherent tension between maintaining quality standards and the desire to give the choice to the parents, however, he concluded by saying “in my personal opinion, recognition system for the private schools can be made easier so that alternative schools can come up.” He focused on the need of an ecosystem where the ‘choice’ can be made in a more informed fashion.

This was followed by a session on Perspectives of Freedom in Education. Parth J Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society took the floor to explore Indian perspectives, and said that “Freedom in education is important because each child is unique. Standardised inputs will lead to different outcomes. One thing that undermines freedom is the doubt that parents don’t have the capacity to make the right choices for their children.”

Further taking on the discussion to global perspectives, Swaminathan Aiyar, Consulting Editor to Economic Times said that while the case for free choice is very clear, we must also help parents make informed choices by making all information available to them. Right now, for instance, there seems to be a mad rush to send children to English-medium schools, without an understanding of how learning in a foreign language compares to learning in a native tongue.

Through an exploration of dimensions to freedom in education, the conference sought to understand, how different stakeholders across the world perceive freedom and the existing models that empower parents and students to exercise freedom in education. Appreciating the centrality of government and policy in choice as well as freedom in education, the conference also looked at what policy framework can help enhance this freedom.

Jayaprakash Narayan, President, Loksatta Party, while speaking on regulation and independence in education said that “we need to save children from the RTE Act. Right to Education Act has no focus on outcomes. It created a license raj in education. But India’s poor have rejected it.

There is 9% decline in government school enrolment and 40% increase in private school enrolment since 2009. 26% kids in Std * cannot read a Std 2 passage. 54% kids in Std 8 cannot do division. Indian kids are falling further behind global standards. A flawed law did more damage than good. Parental choice and competition, measurement of outcomes and real accountability is the key to change. RTE must be amended without delay”  

The conference hosted other big names in education sector like Erica Taraporevala, Prema Rangachary, Director, Vidya Vanam, Namita Dalmia from Central Square Foundation, Dr Manisha Priyam from NEUPA and K Satyanarayan from New Horizon Media.


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Connectivity: Lifeline of Assam

4 Jun 2007 - 5:30am | editor

The second bridge over the Brahmaputra is part of the East-West corridor, which would connect the North East Region with the rest of the country. At the same time, a high speed highway from Silchar to Srirampur is being constructed in Assam at an investment of Rs 6000 crores.The mighty and sacred river, the Brahmaputra, is the lifeline of the people of Assam. A new bridge over Brahmaputra will serve the people of Assam as well as the States of Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. It will provide a new path towards progress and prosperity. The UPA Government is committed to the rapid development of the North East Region. This project is scheduled to be completed by December 2008. It will reduce the overall travel time and distance between the North East region and rest of India.

Connectivity for Development

he Central Government is also committed to improving the road connectivity between the North Eastern states as well. The Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North East will construct new roads and help improve existing roads. It will connect state capitals, district headquarters and remote areas. In the first phase, it will be covering 1310 km of roads by investing Rs 4618 crore.India needs world class roads and bridges. Roads are the arteries of an economy.

Easy connectivity between different regions, between villages and towns, between farms and markets, will ensure spread of prosperity. The country has set a growth target of 9% to 10% over the next decade. It has achieved a growth rate of about 9% in the last two years and in the near future, the economy has the potential of achieving a growth rate in excess of 10%. The other task that needs to be addressed is to ensure that the fruits of this extremely rapid development is evenly spread among all regions and among all sections of society. For this, one needs to improve the condition of our agriculture, increase the employment in industry, and ensure that the youth get more jobs and farmers get higher incomes.

Need to Develop Industries

his is especially true for the North-Eastern region. The agriculture in the state has to improve a great deal. It needs to have more irrigation. It needs to achieve greater productivity. The North East, and particularly Assam, also needs more industries. The people of Assam are hardworking and skilful. However, lack of industries has affected growth of employment opportunities. And poor connectivity has in itself been a cause of poor industrialization. Bridges and highways are the best way to bridge the connectivity gap and enable rapid industrialization of Assam.
What is true for Assam is true for the rest of India as well. The need is greater investment in roads, ports, telecommunication, airports, railways and power. India has one of the largest road networks in the world and the Government has given highest priority to the development of better quality National Highways and construction of rural roads. The UPA Government has launched Bharat Nirman under which investments are made in rural roads, telephones, safe drinking water and electricity in every village.

Improved road connectivity will help in taking agricultural produce to markets and create new possibilities of employment, and reduce poverty. With this objective in view, UPA Government is investing thousands of crores of Rupees in road construction.

Ambitious Programme

The government is planning to implement an ambitious programme of Rs 2,20,000 crores till 2012 for improving the National Highway network. Several stretches will be improved to 4-lane or 6-lane width across the country. Most of these works will be taken up on a Public Private Partnership basis.

The National Highways Authority of India has awarded contracts for four laning of 600 kms of National Highways in Assam. This is the highest rate of road development in this region since the start of National Highways Development Programme.

Assam has now become a major beneficiary of the road programme. When these road projects are completed they will give a big boost to the industrial and agricultural sectors, to tourism and other service sectors in this region. Projects like this bridge across the mighty Brahmaputra will transform the lives and the economy of the region.
Adaptation from the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech at the laying of the foundation stone for the 2nd Bridge over river Brahmaputra in Guwahati .

(PIB )

26th ASDC Foundation Day

18 May 2012 - 12:23pm | Anup Biswas

The 26th Foundation Day of Autonomous State Demand committee N C Hills (now Dima Hasao) District Committee was observed at ASDC party office on Thursday in a solemn way. A public meeting was also held with Sri Rathindra Thaosen, President ASDC Dima Hasao District Committee in the chair.

Speaking on the occasion Sri Sanbang Nunisa, Sri A. Jeme, Gaon Bura of Asalu, Sri Suraj Naiding Joint Secretary, ASDC, Sri Palon Warisa, Smt S Hojai, ASDC Mahila Sangathan disclosed that a strong opposition and a mass movement led by dedicated leaders has become the need of hour to provide justice to the masses.

Earlier, Monjit Karigapsa, Secretary, ASDC recalled the historic democratic mass movement of ASDC during nineties which brought for political as well as social awareness among the public leading to more power to the Councils. He said though it is not apparently visible that the ASDC is continuing its movement but it is 100% fact that the people are still awaiting for a mass movement to bring justice to them.

BTC employees stages dharna

23 Feb 2016 - 11:51pm | Hantigiri Narzary

Hundreds of BTC employees stages three hours sit-in-demonstration under the banner of BTC Central Selection Board (CSB) Selected Unregularised Employees Association in front of DC office today in Kokrajhar demanding solutions of various grievances which included regularisation of job, make single gradation immediately, fill up vacant posts.

The agitators shouted slogans with banner, placards demand early regulatisation of fixed pay jobs on the based of joining date, councilised the fixed pay employees within BTC area, conversations of all Gr-III, Grain and Driver (CSB selected only) post as per E.C . meeting minutes held on November 27 (2015).

Later, a memorandum of 10 point charter of demands was submitted to the Principal Secretary of BTC through Deputy Commissioner, Kokrajhar.

Karna Prasad Narzary, president of the association said that the BTC authority has not been giving any stress to solve issue and demands of the fixed pay employees. There are around 1600 employees are engaged in fixed pay in the four districts of council appointed through CSB,who are serving their job in cheapest salary since appointed.They have been putting pressure council administration, yet no any positive response was reached. He has demanded grievances and issues should be solved within February 28 of this month and held healthy society in the region.