ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bridging the Gaps through Education

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This is in response to an insightful piece “The Invisible Barriers to India’s Educational Reforms” by Suzana Brinkmann (EPW, 25 January 2020). She mentions how the world view of teachers and the administration has not changed. The edifice of new institutions or reform of old ones did not make any dent in the basic foundations of our society, built on entrenched hierarchy. Neither the social reform of the 19th century nor subsequent attempts to usher in a more egalitarian society has been successful. I

believe there are three reasons for this: (i) The foundation of caste hierarchy was never confronted head-on, which left the privileged to retain their privileges; (ii) the perpetuation of our habitus is a strong force to not let go. “Habitus,” as Pierre Bourdieu explains, is a system of dispositions, learned, fundamental, deep founded, unconscious beliefs and values taken as universal; (iii) in 1966, the Kothari Commission made a strong plea for one system of public education for eight years with no private schools. He called it neighbourhood schools to which every child would go. This is the practice in most countries of the West that I have seen. Had we done this, the most blatant forms of discrimination prevalent today would have been avoided. To some extent, the Kendriya Vidyalayas fulfilled this. Research in the United Kingdom has shown how much a common public school helped to narrow inequalities. Unfortunately, today, even our public universities are being wound down. And, this trend is not being resisted because it suits those who are in power. If only we could rely on the promise held out by Rabindranath Tagore’s song: “Into that heaven of freedom, let my country awake.”

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Updated On : 15th Feb, 2020

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