Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Common School System - some exchanges

i had started endorsing the CSS since i read about it a couple of months ago.
first post was here and then a full fledged endorsement here.

in this week alone, i have had 2 chances to engage in direct discussions with groups in defense on CSS. one was initiated by purvsoutlet and the other was over email.

the obvious exchanges over free markets, parents choice, egalitarian society, etc. were thrown around and in a healthy spirit, the discussion ended without any judgment.

the email exchange, however, went into uncharted areas.
the critical points from the exchanges follows:

nm said

So I am feeling pretty confident that the high school agenda will come back with a bang. Also, there is a popular backing for it. There is a huge unemployed rural middle-class, middle caste youth, which will die to become govt. teachers – unlike upper caste, upper class doctors who don’t want to work in govt service. These guys can mobilise votes too.

csm response

I would like to believe that, if they did not press ahead with the RTE bill in its form. The speed at which Sibal pushed it through, is clearly an indicator of him getting major brownie points with MMS (which he has got in truckloads).

I believe that their social sector thrust will rest with the NREGA and stuff around those lines. I don’t believe that it will traverse to the main social sectors of health and education.

nm said

About the common school system. Come to Jharkhand – you can’t find a school, common or otherwise, in most of the villages there. The private sector is dominating the metros and the small cities, maybe. But where the law will really matters, there is nothing much and nothing at all but govt. I think, in principle, a common school is a good idea. But there is a history of progressive groups of the oppressed opting out of the common school system because they found it discriminatory – think of the Dravidian movement or the Dalit movement in Mah or the progressive Muslim groups in the Deccan and South. It will be hard to win these people over to a system which promises homogeneity, but not necessarily equality. Typical leftist problem of being unable to understand caste, culture – or see it as divisive and some kind of ‘false consciousness’.

csm response

The CSS goes hand in hand with local ownership. The latter has to be the lynchpin around which the CSS will evolve.

The govt school system in the villages have primarily failed due to this factor. As long as the government is “mai-baap” of society, no system will work.

Of course, it has to break through the rigid application of caste hierarchies. And I surrender that the last 60 years has not been able to dent this structure.

The progressive groups have moved out of the system and found their niches and school-ghettos. It has helped their social/economic progression, I agree completely. But it has further wedged apart society. If that’s the way it will be, I will not be any part of it.

To economically equalise society, the rich will have to give up their riches, along with the pulling up of the poor. In the very same manner, the upper castes have to get off their high horse.

I have direct experience in the former but zilch in the latter and hence am doing simple extrapolation.

And so far as all education continues to divide society on the basis of labour (in other words, demean manual labour), no system will eventually work.

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