New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday attacked the Modi government saying that “an ideology” is being imposed on the education system and assured the teachers that his party was with them in fighting the battle.
Interacting with college and university teachers from nearly 20 states as part of the party’s outreach, he said the Indian education system must be allowed to have its own voice.
Gandhi said there was space for private institutions but the guiding light of the foundation of superstructure has to be the public education system. He also expressed concern over the high fees of some educational institutions.
“I have come here mainly to tell you that you feel you are under attack, you are under threat, you feel that an ideology is being imposed on you. You feel that one syllabus has now suddenly become acceptable to every single education institution in India and you are not alone when you are fighting this battle,” Gandhi said.
“This feeling is not only in your heart but in the heart of every single individual. It is in the heart of farmers, labourers, those running SMEs (small and medium enterprises). Everybody is saying that the country of over a billion people cannot possibly be run on a single idea,” he added.
Gandhi said he was not speaking as Congress President but as a citizen who believes that the future of our country is guided by our teachers, who believes that if you do not allow the teachers to express themselves in the classroom you cannot have an education system.
He said that the teachers had come to the programme from different parts and people expressing themselves was a strength of the country and not a weakness.
“You come from different parts of the country, have different type of experiences and different challenges and your responses would be different, they can’t be same. And for me that is India’s biggest strength. And to me that is something that you embody and that is something that all of you are going to defend,” he said.
Gandhi said he had come to the gathering as a student and not as a teacher and he wanted to understand what needs to be done.
He said a teacher in India is regarded as Guru, someone who guides, gives direction and who has to have the ability to express himself.
He said there should be a feeling of harmony if the education system has to work and teachers should feel secure about their jobs and work environment.
“A teacher has to have a sense that he has a future, a sense that he is sacrificing something for the nation. You can have teachers on contract and fire them at your will and not give them a future not give them a vision of future. (By this) you simply cannot have harmony in the classroom,” Gandhi said.
Referring to students, he said if he is worried about paying the fee for his education it also leads to lack of harmony.
“If the only thing in his mind and his parents mind is that somehow I have to collect Rs 30-40 lakh rupees then you cannot have a harmonious system. What I see is that the cost of our education system is spiralling, particularly for students and their families and it is just going to be a point where it is unacceptable.”
He said teachers were part of the success of the education system. Looking at the success of Indian education system, its foundation has been public education system.
“If you look in any field, you shall find that they are public institutions. I am not saying here that there is no space for private institutions, but the guiding light the foundation the superstructure has to be public education system. The private institutions must look to public institutions and say look that is an IIT, that is something we should aspire to, it shouldn’t be the other way round.”
The government has to move from seeing education as just something that we do to what is central to India’s development.
Gandhi said teachers were a very important resource for the country and they work under very difficult circumstances.
“I don’t think anybody else in any other country works under that situation that deal with the type of issues that you deal. You owe respect, dignity.”
He said people are familiar with the work done by the UPA government to improve and expand the education system in the country.