[eebill] CABE committees

anyone knows who are on the committees for the
education Bill and CSS?

Back to Basics: CABE Examines Social, Cultural Basis
of Education
[ WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2004 12:00:00 AM ]

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), now
reconstituted, met recently after a gap of more than
10 years. The recent meeting was completely dissimilar
in tenor and content to the previous one, the only
commonality being HRD minister Arjun Singh's presence
on both occasions. The reasons for this dissimilarity
are not far to seek: In the intervening decade, Indian
education had to struggle against two major assaults,
one from the global market forces and the other from
communal and divisive forces. While market ideology
considerably diluted the notion of social justice and
equality guaranteed by the Constitution, the communal
forces challenged the multi-ethnic, multilinguistic
and multicultural foundation of Indian nationhood.

The two-day CABE meet squarely confronted these
challenges. It not only took up the education policies
of the previous government, but also delved into
perennial problems pertaining to universal access and
quality of instruction. The minister, among other
things, said the time had come to review the 1986
policy. He announced the formation of seven
committees, each focusing on a key issue.

The first would take a fresh look at the Free and
Compul-sory Education Bill drafted by the NDA
government which came under criticism from several
quarters. The Bill is a political declaration of
state's retreat from its constitutional obligation
towards education. It also promotes control through
extra-constitutional authorities. Yet, the decision
for its review was least expected from a minister who
had stated in a recent television interview that he
did not find anything particularly objectionable about
the Bill.

Still more unexpected was the subject of the second
committee, viz common school system (CSS). The last
time this subject was uttered at CABE was in 1988 when
it constituted a committee under the leadership of
Prof D S Kothari, former chairperson of the Education
Commission (1964-66). But its report was so
threatening that it was put on the back burner. The
concept of the common school system was, however,
incorporated thrice in education policy ? in 1968,
1986 and 1992. Yet, the past decade played havoc with
the idea by instituting a variety of parallel, low
quality educational streams, such as non-formal
centres, alternative schools and EGS centres,
essentially through World Bank-sponsored school

The regular teacher was replaced by an
under-qualified, untrained and underpaid para-teacher.
The Operation Blackboard norms approved by the
Parliament for the number of teachers, classrooms and
educational aids were diluted. These policy dilutions
were dictated by the structural adjustment programme
of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The committee will review this thrust.

The subject of the third committee surpasses even the
second in its departure from established policy
stance. It will deliberate upon universalisation of
secondary (not elementary) education. It has been
argued that the constitutional goal of providing eight
years of elementary education is not adequate anymore.
The new goal must, instead, be to guarantee education
at least up to the high school stage, if not the
plus-two stage, without which most opportunities for
technical education and employment, including
reservations for SCs and STs, would remain

The fourth committee will dwell on the autonomy of
institutes of higher education. The NDA government
attempted to undermine their autonomy in more ways
than one. The UGC Model Act for universities was
designed to this end. This issue, of course, came into
the limelight when Murli Manohar Joshi tried to
dictate the fee structure of the IIMs.

The fifth committee will look at ways and means of
integrating cultural education in the school
curriculum, with a critical focus on the Hindutva
thrust. As opposed to Hindutva, the introduction of
issues relating to the pluralist character of Indian
nationhood will be examined by this committee.

The sixth committee will explore regulatory mechanisms
for what is taught by parallel textbooks outside the
government system, e.g., in Saraswati Shishu Mandirs
and madrassas. This is in response to a growing
concern that certain bodies use schools to propagate
communal prejudice.

The seventh committee will deal with the issue of
financing of higher and technical education. This task
includes the challenge of privatisation and
commercialisation, which cannot be delinked from the
state's role in regulating global market forces. The
committee may also have to deal with India's stance
vis-a-vis the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

What does all this mean? We must recall that at least
three of the seven subjects ? Free and Compulsory
Education Bill, Common School System and
universalisation of secondary education ? do not find
a mention in the UPA government's common minimum
programme. The inclusion of these issues in the CABE
agenda is indicative of the pressure created by
educationists and social activists on the government
and the impact of the electoral mandate against
neo-liberal and communal politics. The intelligentsia
will have none other than itself to blame if it fails
to widen the political space that CABE has created
after a decade.

(The author is Professor of Education, Delhi

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  • [eebill] education approval committees
    • From: kamala menon
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