EDUCATION TRIBUNE Tuesday, May 15, 2001, Chandigarh, India

Panchayats and schools

Rajinder Chaudhary
CHOOLTEACHERS in Haryana are agitated. They are irked at the proposal of the Government of Haryana to hand over school education up to the middle level to Panchayati Raj institutions. Teachers have two main objections to this proposal. Given the state of finances of local bodies, they are sceptical about timely payment of salaries. The experience of municipal committee employees scares them. Their other major concern is interference of panchayats in day-to-day management of schools.

Ignore English at own peril
K.K. Prashar

N THE undergraduate courses offered by Himachal Pradesh University, English is a compulsory subject in the first year of science and commerce faculties and in all classes of the Arts faculty. But, a vociferous demand has been made by a body of students and its affiliated colleges for making English optional at the undergraduate level. It was not for the first time that such a demand has been raised. In fact, on many occasions this issue was sought to be raised.

Pervin Malhotra, Tribune’s career expert, answers all your career queries.

Fortnightly quiz for kids — 131




Panchayats and schools
Rajinder Chaudhary

SCHOOLTEACHERS in Haryana are agitated. They are irked at the proposal of the Government of Haryana to hand over school education up to the middle level to Panchayati Raj institutions. Teachers have two main objections to this proposal. Given the state of finances of local bodies, they are sceptical about timely payment of salaries. The experience of municipal committee employees scares them. Their other major concern is interference of panchayats in day-to-day management of schools.

Both concerns are not misplaced. In the early fifties, schools and dispensaries used to be run by municipal committees and district boards, precursors of zila parishads. Then too, timely payment of salaries was not made. There was an agitation and these schools, were taken over by the government. The district board high schools became government high schools. Much later, after Haryana came into being, there was an agitation by college teachers and their salaries began to be paid through the government. For some years college teachers received regular salaries, but now for the past 2 or 3 years, again the payment has become irregular. As against this, mercifully as yet, government college teachers are being paid their salaries regularly.

In this context, apprehensions of teachers are not farfetched. As of now panchayats are at the mercy of panchayats which neither have adequate resources of their own nor does the state have a statutory responsibility to give them well-defined amounts of funds at regular intervals. As a part of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, states were required to appoint a statutory financial commission for devolution of funds to local bodies. This statutory mechanism is yet to be put in to place. The government must make a statutory provision for meeting full financial liability of school education and only then transfer administrative control to panchayats.

Before moving on to the second objection, let us first examine the rationale for transferring the control over school education to panchayats. It is being argued that the system of public administration lacks accountability. And whatever accountability it has, it is not towards people directly affected by it or the beneficiaries but towards higher organs of administration located in far-off offices, often in state or national capitals.

Unless people directly affected by decision-making are given adequate say (not necessarily veto power) in decision-making things cannot improve. It is in this context that decentralisation of decision-making is being undertaken in various states. Kerala, perhaps, has taken most far-reaching steps in this direction by devolving 40% of development funds to panchayats.

However, transfer of power and responsibility to panchayats, does not by itself mean the involvement of people concerned. As of now effective power is neither with gram sabhas nor panchayats. Whatever power there is with the local bodies is epitomised by the sarpanch. The little decentralisation that has taken place has been centralised at the local level in the persona of sarpanch. So one often hears people saying that schools henceforth will be under sarpanches, rarely is the term panchayats used. One should only rely on the collective wisdom of the village community to supervise school education and not on an individual, who may even be illiterate.

But making functioning of panchayats democratic and participatory is a tall order. Yet there is no other way. Devolution of powers and responsibility to panchayats will only make sense if panchayats are democratic and participatory; if gram sabhas have an effective role and supervision. Otherwise, devolution of school education to panchayats will only amount to the state government getting rid of its responsibility.

Under the circumstances, what should be done? Should the present arrangement continue as schoolteachers demand? There is another more sensible alternative. Treat this as an experiment. Make a statutory provision as regards financial commitment of the state to school education. Thereafter, transfer the administrative control over schools in selected panchayats on an experimental basis. Based on the experience, extend the scheme to other panchayats over a period of time. Moreover even after this experiment is extended to the whole state, the state government should continue to have a role and responsibility as regards school education. So the balance between rights and responsibilities of the state government and panchayats has to be worked out on the basis of experience. Only rarely is it good.

School education is too important an area, both in terms of its intrinsic importance as well as the number of persons involved, to allow any rash manoeuvres. Unfortunately, bureaucratic management favours uniformity, it is incapable of handling diversity.

All rural development programmes in Haryana require a self-help group of potential beneficiaries. Only then can these avail of government facilities. Self-help groups have proved effective in Gujarat and some Southern states. While there they evolved over a period of time, here in Haryana it has suddenly been made the norm. School education has long-term implications. At least here the government must be cautious and implement new ideas in selected panchayats only.

If along with statutory financial provisions, democratic and participatory panchayats, the government adopts an experimental approach, schoolteachers should have no objection. It has often been pointed out by teachers that the transfer policy adopted by the Bansi Lal government in 1968, wherein teachers were transferred away from their home districts/tehsils, sounded the deathknell of school education. It is argued that in an alien village teachers do not have to face community pressure and, hence, may act irresponsibly.

The present move seeks to bring in this community pressure, so teachers organisations cannot oppose it as a matter of principle, provided their genuine apprehensions are allayed.

(The author is Reader, Department of Economics, MDU, Rohtak). 


Ignore English at own peril
K.K. Prashar

IN THE undergraduate courses offered by Himachal Pradesh University, English is a compulsory subject in the first year of science and commerce faculties and in all classes of the Arts faculty. But, a vociferous demand has been made by a body of students and its affiliated colleges for making English optional at the undergraduate level. It was not for the first time that such a demand has been raised. In fact, on many occasions this issue was sought to be raised.

The question that strikes one’s mind is: why do college students have an aversion to English? There is no denying the fact that a majority of students who join college after passing plus two are not proficient in English, either written or oral. Even after seven years of schooling they are not able to speak or write correct English. It is learning by rote that helps them pass examinations in this language. Naturally, they find it hard to pass, leave alone obtain an honourable score, in the college examination. Several students pass examinations in parts as they fail in English time and again.

The problem that starts at school continues and becomes acute at college. A cursory look at the HPU year-wise pass percentage in English for B.A.I, II and III shows how things are going from bad to worse and call for serious remedial steps by the authorities concerned at whichever level they might deem it suitable:





















Undoubtedly, these figures are alarming. But equally alarming is the fact that some of those who graduate are no better than those who fall as far as the level of proficiency in written and spoken English is concerned. A handful from convent and other prestigious schools are an exception.

Prescribing good books mean nothing unless they are accompanied by good teaching, both at school and college. At present English is not being taught as a language, let alone foreign one, but like any other subject. Given the number of students in a class, the number of periods allotted and regular teachers available, it is futile to hope for any improvement.

Interestingly, a student who cannot write a simple, correct and complete sentence in English after passing plus two is asked to read at college the works of William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Nehru, Aldous Huxley, William Blake and Robert Browning which require in-depth knowledge of the language.

Should English be made optional at the undergraduate level, I say ‘no. Rather, the problems that come in the way of its teaching need to be identified and got rid off to develop the interest of students in this subject.

In view of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation of economy, the importance of English has increased all the more. To ask for making it optional at the college level amounts to taking a simplistic view of English is the as the language is used in business, trade, commerce, computer, science and information technology (infotech).

It is a window to the world which is fast becoming a global village. As the peoples of the world and cultures come closer, the knowledge of a few languages other than one’s own is bound to be of great asset. Why English alone? Our youth must the facilities to learn other languages

Even within India, English is the link language among people from different parts of the country. Courses in English for various undergraduate classes need to be made more interesting, useful and in tune with the time to achieve the desired result. Therefore, courses in the English language and literature must be separated and students given the option to choose either of these.

One can ignore English at one’s own peril. Making it optional at college will be like giving medicine to a patient without diagnosing his illness.




Pervin Malhotra, Tribune’s career expert, answers all your career queries.

Q I am doing BCA from IGNOU. Will I be eligible for competitive exams like the civil services?

Bhushan Bindra.

A A BCA degree from IGNOU which is a fully recognised university under the UGC certainly makes you eligible to appear in competitive exams like the Civil Services, Combined Defence Services (CDS), Bank PO, etc.

Q What is the difference between BCom (Pass) and BCom (Hons). Can I do MCom and then take up teaching as a profession? Yasmine Singh.

A It is always better to go in for an Honours degree wherever it is offered by a university - particularly if you wish to pursue postgraduate studies in that field. An Honours course is more exacting and consists of additional paper/s in specific subject areas. As far as doing a BEd is concerned, there may be no problem, but you will certainly face a roadblock should you want to enroll for MCom or aim for teaching at the university level.

In case you decide to go in for an MBA or any other professional course where admission is purely on the basis of an entrance test, your BCom (Pass) should not prove too much of a problem, though.

Q I am interested in pursuing bachelor’s in medical lab technology. Please suggest some reputed institutions offering this course

. Harish Sachdev.

A Listed below are some of the institutes that offer courses in MLT:

Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Sector 12, Chandigarh 160012. Course: BSc (MLT). Eligibility: 10+2 with Sc or Higher Secondary/Pre-university with Phy and Chem or Cert/Dip in Lab Tech or 5-year exp as Lab asstt/technician. Age: 17-25 yrs.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ansari Nagar, New Delhi 110029. Course: BSc (Hons)(Med Tech in Radiography). Eligibility: Class XII/1st year of BSc with Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Maths and English securing 50% (45% for SC/ST) aggregate. Selection Procedure: Entrance exam.

University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital (affiliated to University of Delhi), Shahdara, Delhi 110095. Course: BSc (Med Tech) (Radiography). Eligibility: Class XII conducted by CBSE, New Delhi (except Patrachar Vidyalaya and Open Schools) with PCB and English securing 50% (40% for SC/ST) aggregate from recognised schools in Delhi. Those with 10+2 in X-ray Technology under vocational scheme with 50% marks are also eligible

Medical College (Univ of Kerala), Thiruvananthapuram 695011

Course: BSc (MLT).

Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) (Pondicherry Univ), Dhanvantari Nagar, Pondicherry 605006. Course: BSc (MLT). Eligibility: Class XII with PCB and English or Class XII (Vocational) with Med Lab Asstt. Sponsored candidates should have 3-year work experience.

Christian Medical College (Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University), Thorapudi Post Office, Vellore-632002. Course: BSc (MLT).

Fr Muller’s Institute of Medical Education & Research (Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences), Kankanady, Mangalore 575002. Course: BSc (MLT).

Institute of Health Sciences (Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences), AB Shetty Circle, Mangalore 575001. Course: BSc (MLT).

Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology (Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences), Dr M H Marigowda Road, Bangalore 560029. Course: BSc (MLT)

Q I have completed Class XII in the arts stream and now doing graduation in psychology. I am keen on becoming a clinical psychologist. Please tell me how to go about it.

Parul Chaudhary.

A The first step would be to do a MA/MSc in Psychology (with or without a specialization in Clinical Psychology). You will probably have to appear for an entrance test/interview, depending upon the university.

However, a postgraduate degree or diploma is not enough. In addition to MA/MSc in Psychology, a 2-year MPhil degree in the subject is the minimum mandatory requirement. In principle though, a PhD is the preferred qualification. Alternatively, you must be a Full Member of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP), not an Associate or Correspondent Member.

NIMHANS, Bangalore, rated amongst the top ten institutions in this field globally, is the hottest destination for those training to be professional psychologists.

Chandigarh and Delhi University are also good options. Although DU’s syllabus is somewhat archaic, it is theoretically sound. Since the course involves extensive project work, it fetches extra credits for those wishing to enrol for PG and research programmes in the US (16 years of undergraduate study is mandatory for admission to Master’s courses in most American universities).

Clinical Psychology is a very popular specialisation that is concerned with abnormal behaviour and mental disorders. As a clinical psychologist, you will apply the findings of psychology to assess and treat patients holistically. You may also conduct research in mental and psychosomatic illnesses in children and adults.

Recent breakthroughs in the areas of neural networks, iconic memory, perception and higher cognitive functions have very exciting implications for those specialising in neuro-psychology, which is a sub-field of clinical psychology.

If you are interested in academics, you can also teach at the college or university level or even at a medical college where clinical psychology is one of the basic subjects of the MD (Psychiatry) course.

Q I am a Class XII student. I am keen on pursuing a career in law. Could you please tell me of institutions offering these courses in the North? Ritu Sohal.

A You can study law straight after Class XII. Integrated 5-year Law Courses (BA LLB) are offered at nearly 30 universities in India.

In the North, some of the universities that offer these Law courses are:

Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh 202002.

Army Institute of Law, Sangrur Road, Patiala (Punj) only for children of serving/ex-army personnel.

Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.

Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak 124001, Haryana.

Admission is on the basis of an entrance test.

National Law University, 92 Polo First, Paota, Jodhpur 342001offers BA LLB, BSc LL &, BBA LLB.

The other option would be to do a 3-year LLB after your graduation. You can even do this course from Delhi University. Eligibility is graduation in any discipline (50% agg). Selection is through an entrance test.

For a complete list of 5-year courses and details on career prospects in various fields of law, read Careers in Law published by CARING, New Delhi.

Q I am a Class XII student. I have taken the science stream with Computer Science as my subject. As I am keen on a career in the Indian Coast Guard, can you please tell me about the jobs offered for women? Rajni Sharma.

A The Indian Coast Guard is the youngest branch of the Armed Forces. Its primary function is to safeguard the entire coastline of India. Other functions include the safety and protection of offshore installations, artificial islands and maritime environment, safety of life and property at sea, helping fishermen in distress and assisting the Customs authorities in anti-smuggling operations.

To join this paramilitary service, you must be physically fit, mentally tough, intelligent, bold and independent.

Since the last 3 years, the Indian Coast Guard has started recruiting women candidates as Assistant Commandants (General Duty), Assistant Commandants (General Duty - Pilot) and Assistant Commandants (Law) for ashore billets and fixed wing pilots.

For Assistant Commandant (General Duty - Pilot): 10+2 with current Commercial Pilot licence; graduation preferred.

Age: 19-27 years. Also, the candidate has to meet certain physical standards. Selection Procedure: Test/Interview. Achievement in academics, sports and NCC will be given due weightage.

For Assistant Commandant (General Duty): Class XII under 10+2+3 scheme or Graduation with Mathematics and Physics as subjects up to Intermediate.

For Assistant Commandant (Law): Degree in Law.

For further information, you may contact:

Director (Manpower Planning, Recruitment & Training), Coast Guard Headquarters, National Stadium Complex, Purana Quila Road (Near Patiala House Courts), New Delhi 110001.


Fortnightly quiz for kids — 131

1. Name the largest military exercise in 13 years that was recently launched by India to train its troops in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

2. Name the author of the book 'Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi'.

3. Which are the world's five most populous countries (in descending order), according to latest census reports?

4. What is the capital of Puerto Rico?

5. In which year did the infamous 'Great Train Robbery' take place?

6. Name the world's largest aircraft.

7. Who is Miss Universe 2001?

8. Name the Commonwealth Secretary- General.

9. In which city is the Tata modern museum situated?

10. Expand UAV.

11. Through how many continents will the Olympic torch be carried for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens?

12. Who has been named "Marathon Swimmer of the Century" by the International Swimmers Hall of Fame in Florida?

13. With which sport is Sarala Shetty associated?

14. Which Gulf country recently allowed women to attend football matches?

15. Who recently won the men's and women's singles of the World Table Tennis championship in Osaka, Japan?

Students may submit their responses along with their name, class and school address

Winners of quiz 129:

Total entries received were 694. 404 entrants gave all correct answers. The first prize by draw of lots goes to Karun Sehdeva, VIII- A, St. Francis High School, Amritsar.

Second: Anjul Sehgal, XII, Bharatiya Public School, Jagadhri Road,Ambala Cantt, Haryana-133001. Third: Vikas Chopra, XII, Shishu Niketan Model Senior School,22-D, Chandigarh.

Answers to quiz 130: Dennis Tito; Prayag Raj; Junichiro Koizumi; Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation; Jerusalem; Bujumbura; Baroda; Hasim Rahman; Shaun Pollock; Weightlifting; Waqar Younis; Saeed Anwar; Sri Lanka; Ato, Nik and Kaz; 519.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

Tarun Sharma