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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Educational policy needs drastic changes: Prof Tilak

New Delhi: Education is a critical investment in the development of the human being. It is to benefit both individual and society. It is a public good by definition, principle and practice. I n our age education is being recognized as a human right across the globe and basic education as fundamental right in our country. 

If it is the concept, then obviously government is compelled to spend on education just as it is compelled to spend on any other tangible economic activity, Prof. G.B.J Tilak said, speaking in the national seminar on "Educational Needs of the Country and its share in the Union Budget" at Jamia Hamdard.

There has been a goal to spend 6 percent of national income on education. This was set in 1968 and was to be achieved by 1986. After fifteen more years we are spending just 4 percent on education. It is much less than our requirements. Kothari Commission has recommended 6 percent to meet the then requirements. If we want to provide a good quality of education at this moment 8-10 percent of national income will have to be spent on this sector. In contrast to this there has been a systematic decline in the total public expenditure on education if calculated in real prices. Again the total expenditure of the central government is just around 5 percent which is a very small figure. This has come down again to just half during last decade. When we slash funds for scholarships, we are paralyzing the concept of equity in the field of education. Higher education has been democratized during last five decades. But present policies are trying to reverse this trend. These policies may have serious effects and may lead the country back.

Education is a practical activity which is both equitable and efficient as it ensures both equity in society and yields economic returns to the individual. In most countries, particularly developed countries, governments finance education substantially and higher education too substantially. When our government says basic education will be imparted free of cost it simply offers not to charge tuition fees. But the other fees are often much higher than tuition fees.

To speak about scholarships has become unfashionable in our country. Instead we hear only fee hikes in colleges and universities.

In contrast to the student aid programmes in developed countries, banks in our country offer “educational loans” purely on commercial basis. Our banks offer loans to only those students who are able to pay back. With a few exceptions there is no predominantly private higher education elsewhere across the globe as we are planning in India, Prof. Tilak concluded.

The seminar was organised by Students Islamic Organisation of India demanding the expenditure of six percent of GDP on education.

Delivering the presidential address Syed Hamid, chancellor, Jamia Hamdard, termed the seminar historic as SIO has taken a general yet highly relevant issue. Papers were presented by Prof. Tapas Majumdar (JNU), Prof.Anil Sadgopal (CIE, Delhi University), Prof. Furqan Qamar (Co-Ordinator, Management Studies, Jamia Millia), Prof. Waqar Ahmad Hussaini (USA) and Prof. FR Faridi (Aligarh). 

- E Yasir

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