Magic mirage

Updated: Apr 20 2005, 05:30am hrs
The news that Parliament will be used to stop teachers in schools from offering private tuition is not only a stupid idea, but a heartless one. It is typical of the mix of utopian motives and armchair theorising, which consistently makes the inhuman mess characterising so much of our public policy. Like the one in our national capital which says you must own the cycle-rickshaw you pull to be eligible for a licence. Ricks continue to proliferate: what you have is a huge

system of bribery and captive manpower, in which politicians, municipal staff and police are a vital part. The drive to earn and grow has been driven underground and into the hands of the dishonest.

So, too, with the proposed free (read taxpayer-funded) and compulsory education bill, in which the tuition ban has been recommended for inclusion. To begin with, it is silly to use Parliament to check what school teachers do after office hours, from Srinagar to Salem. We are all for the principle of subsidiaritythat a higher authority should only do what lower tiers cannotat the United Nations and at Saarc and so on. How about applying it at home Allow a panchayat to make and enforce rules on the matter and see the change in teacher absenteeism at school. Moving on, why do school teachers take on tuition for money Before our policy-makers, ministers and IAS, begin making rules on the subject, they should take a look at the pay of an average teacher in a private school. Start with a city like Delhi and in the so-called elite schools: the picture elsewhere would be worse. And check what the post-graduate teacher, the top of the heap, gets for putting in all those hours in educating your child. The wonder is that they stay in the line.

If a school teacher is doing the job well, leave him or her alone. If the teaching is unsatisfactory, the problem has to be solved in and with the school; the quality of teaching will not change by confining the teacher to the school. We have a tradition of passing laws which change nothing on the ground. This one will probably make things worse, without affecting the core issue.