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The Saffron Book

Revolution education by video taping the lectures of the best teachers in each subject for each class and encouraging video/internet schools.

8. Revolutionising Education

Dear Ankara
Your describing the backwardness and the lack of education in Banda was almost heart rending. It is not that we are not aware of the pathetic lack of progress in educating our people. We all know that even, graduates of some of the universities in our country are effectively uneducated and therefore unemployable except as manual workers. Nevertheless, your first hand description of the situation in your area provoked me to think hard as to what can be done quickly.

From my experience in Gujarat, I know that even if we wanted to go all out and get things moving, it will be difficult to go far. The quality teachers thee we require are just not available. Many a school, especially in the villages, is just an excuse for a teaching institution maybe two rooms and a verandah and one or two teachers who attend only irregularly. We have, therefore, got to think of a novel method of getting past these enormous handicaps which are spread, more or less, across our whole country.

When we do come across a reasonably good school in a town or a city which is run by the municipality, it teaches quite well. But at the end of class X or XII, the student is incapable of finding a remunerative job. The primary reason for this unfortunate phenomenon is the English language. Most of our people take naturally to their mother tongues. They have also striven to learn Hindi. But to what use does all this come when finding a job higher than that of a skilled worker?

I have myself experienced this extraordinary paradox of our situation. I was once the chief executive of a company which employed approximately 25,000 workers. The overwhelming majority of them were adivasis who spoke either their own dialect or simple Hindi. The dominant shareholders of the company were more at home in Hindi than in English. The consumers of the company's products were common folk most of whom could not have known English. Yet, would I have got the opportunity to be the chief executive if I knew as much Hindi as I know English? And as much English as I knew Hindi? The answer is no. When the workers, the shareholders as well as the consumers are non-English speaking, why need the company's head be au fait with English? I do not know what the real reason is. I only know that it is, however unpleasant, a fact.

In Gujarat today, it is extremely difficult to find an English knowing stenographer who hails from Gujarat. That in itself is not
sad for it gives an opportunity to people from other parts of India to come and work. But it is a symptom of the paradox whereby a large number of Gujarati people must be finding it difficult to find well paid jobs, not necessarily as stenographers but as anything else. Do nor for a moment think that all Gujaratis are businessmen. Fifteen per cent of the population of the state is adivasi, nearly 10% are dalits and atleast another 15% would be truly backward. And many others who do not have the aptitude to be businessmen.

In Calcutta, it is quite common for a middle class family earning only Rs.5,000 per month to spend upto Rs.500 over and above the normal school fee on the child learning English through private tuition.The excruciating messages are clear. One, the school does not teach English well enough. Two, the parents are aware that their child would not grow up to get a lucrative job unless he or she learns English. How true! Even more with the advent of information technology. Computers are difficult to operate without a reasonable knowledge of English. Nor can the operator exploit its advantage without the right language.

Not to say that the other subjects are not as important. Of course they are and they must be taught with equal seriousness. The question was, Ansari, as we discussed: how? The enormous skill that is required to educate our teeming millions? My submission is let the education department of every state get a team of the best teachers in the state for a particular subject in the particular language and for every class. One teacher par excellence. He or she should be required to teach a class for a period and do so for the whole year as would be norms while teaching in a school. The lessons should be recorded on video  tapes and the tapes multiplied into thousands of copies which should be made available, more or less at cost, to anyone and everyone wishing to buy.

Enthusiastic adults in cities, towns as well as villages should be encouraged to set up their private schools in or near their homes. The schools can use these video tapes to conduct classes as appropriate in their circumstances and their localities. To arrange for the lakhs of students who would be taught in such mini schools, a computer system would have to be devised to give examinations and issue certificates. Private candidates passing the normal board examinations is not a new idea. For example, in Bengal, I myself appeared in the school final examination of theWest Bengal Board of Secondary Education as a private candidate and was initially tested by the Ballygunge Government High School in south Calcutta. Of course, there was no computer to help at that time. What I am suggesting is I that students taught in any number of mini schools should he examined by the Board of Education. In other words, the proposal would involve widespread teaching but centralised examinations.

No doubt, my layman's suggestion should be processed by experts. But, in principle, its advantages are self-evident:

viz.unlimited number of students being given excellent education by the best teachers in the state and yet all examined systematically by one authority. A beginning can be made in less than a year. It may not be along time before internet would begin to replace video tape, at least in the urban centres. I feel, this is the only way to lift our uneducated masses out of their morass and give them almost an equal opportunityand quickly.

The Saffron Book
Prafull Goradia
1. Awake and Unite!
2. Why The Saffron Book?

10. Small States
3. Vision
4. Economic Face
5. Abolish Casteism
6. Bride Burning, Divorce
7. Rape, Prostitution
8. Revolutionising Education
9. The Constitution

11. Nationalism
12. Pan-Islamism
13. Communism
14. Subnationalism
15. Casteism

16. Hindutva is Dialectical
17. Origin of Hinduism
18. Medieval Phase
19. Modern Resurgence
20. Not Fundamentalism
21. Not Fascism
22. Tolerance
23. Strengths
24. Weaknesses
25. Opportunities
26. Threats
27. Individual Brilliance

Hindu Paradoxes
42. Idolatry
43. Fatalism
44. Double Standards
45. Masochistic Fringe
46. Fifth Column
47. No Soul before Birth

48. Proselytising Unwelcome
49. Myth of Divide and Rule

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