Have you ever considered getting treated in a public hospital? Or enrolling your child in a public school? Health and education are not matters to be taken lightly. Expensive private treatment and expensive private education is the only way to go. Why is that? Is it because subconsciously the word ‘private’ is synonymous for quality and the word ‘public’ is synonymous for sub-standard?
What is the most common public service we all use? Roads and transport. The life line of our daily commute. How many times have we worked ourselves into an apoplectic fit about the state of our roads and transport system? Minimum once a day. Our road rage is fuelled by our outrage.
And that begs the question why are we not similarly appalled by the condition of other public services? Why is it ok for a public school to not have enough teachers, clean drinking water or clean toilets? Is it because our children will never have to set foot in such an institution? Have we become insular to the point of indifference?
Over the last few years, government spending on education has gone down. Internationally public expenditure on education is tracked as a percentage share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2013 India spent 0.63% of the GDP on education and this has dipped to a projected 0.47% in 2017-18. For a nation where illiteracy and a growing population are pressing issues this does not seem like a wise move. It is therefore certainly not a surprise to hear that only 6 out 10 schools in India have electricity and 30% of the teachers do not have a graduate degree. Children especially girls routinely drop out of schools simply because there are not enough usable toilets.
We have all heard about children who have excelled in pathetic conditions, studied in night schools and under street lamps to become toppers and rank holders in competitive exams. This unfortunately has become the norm rather than the exception. Psychologists have done studies proving how we all love to root for the underdog because we admire people who have had to work harder and battle odds to succeed. However, our love for the underdog seems to have made us apathetic towards a system that is designed to create underdogs. Thanks to the current state of public education, we are steadily churning out too many people with too much of the odds against them.
Education is a right not a privilege. Higher levels of education are associated with better health, longer life, better parenting skills, and earning capacities of individuals. By curtailing education an entire generation is being crippled on our watch.
Benjamin Franklin said that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” For our current education system to pay an interest it requires a lot more of us to take an interest.
Photo Credits : Unknown
Words By : Chandrika Rao
Chandrika Rao is a Psychologist and Development Sector Professional, passionate about children’s and women’s issues and mother to a teenage boy. You can follow her on twitter @chocandcheese