Ever since Arvind Kejriwal became the Chief Minister of Delhi, he has consistently tried to claim that his government has revamped Delhi’s education system. I had my reservations ever since he staked such a claim, but the pass percentage camouflaged the reality hid the fragility of their model.
It must be stated that the Chief Minister holds no portfolio and had requested the Congress for an alliance- yes, the same Congress that it fought against and claimed to be the most corrupt party. In fact, Kejriwal had claimed that he had hundreds of pages of proof against former Chief Minister Mrs Sheela Dixit, yet he sought an alliance with them for upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Given his consistent U-turns, I realized that that one must objectively evaluate whether there has been any change in Delhi’s education system.
The fact remains that his government has done more damage to Delhi’s education system so beneath all his marketing, there is a sad reality that he’s trying to hide to jack up the pass percentage of students of Delhi Government’s pass percentage. According to a Times of India report, “Sixty-six per cent of students in classes IX to XII of Delhi government schools who failed in 2017-18 have now gone out of the formal schooling system. Out of a total of 1,55,436 students who failed, only 52,582 were readmitted in the same class, official documents reveal.”
Based upon my interaction with a significant number of parents of students in several Delhi government schools, I realized that there has been an informal convention on the restriction of stream selection in 11th standard as students are not allowed to take science or maths. Most students in government schools fail in science and maths in 12th board exams and by restricting the choice albeit informally, the government is playing with the career path of its students only to rake up their results.
While the Delhi Government has constructed only 25 schools, the fact remains that not even a single degree college has been constructed since the AAP government was formed in Delhi. It must be stated that they promised construction of 500 schools and 20 colleges so clearly, they’ve failed to deliver on what they promised. In fact, they made tall claims about ensuring that guest teachers are made permanent and fill all teacher posts that were vacant. While thousands of posts continue to be vacant, those that have been filled comprise around 17,000 guest teachers.
So, while they claim that they’ve developed infrastructure, the key component of school for learning is the availability of teachers and that situation has only worsened under the AAP. In fact, Delhi Government schools have witnessed a continuous decline in quality of education and the government does not care about education or any reforms in this area as it is busy in publicising a model that is based on compromising the future of the children of Delhi.
The vulnerability of their model is evident from the fact that the last year average pass percentage of students of class 10th decreased to the lowest in the last 10 year to 68.90% in (2017-18). While there has been not much improvement registered for class 12th average pass percentage. It is interesting that the Delhi government claims to have spent a historically high amount of funds for the education and it is important that we ask Mr Kejriwal and Mr Sisodia regarding the discrepancy in the spending and its impact on education outcomes. Another important question worth asking is where is the money actually going if it is not being spent in providing teachers and other necessary resources to schools? Perhaps, it’s because the AAP’s faulty education model is being advertised in newspapers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. God forbid but if SpaceX would have settled a human colony on Mars (I am certain it will happen sometime in the foreseeable future), then Mr Kejriwal may have advertised the faulty education model there too.
But beyond the satire, the fact remains that out of the budgeted Rs. 15,133 crores for 2018-19, they’ve spent just Rs. 11,201 crores and this clearly shows their commitment towards education. It is unfair to the students of Delhi Government that it is playing with their future just to showcase and window dress the performance of its schools. Rather than actually improving the quality of education, it is busy in demonstrating improvement and advertising it and this focus has resulted in a denial of choice to the students of Delhi.
The AAP government has exploited the vulnerability of the poor students of Delhi just as Mr Kejriwal exploited the vulnerable people of Delhi and their anti-corruption sentiment to storm into power. For all that’s worth, while he advertises his model outside Delhi, back in the city, everyone is aware of his mis-governance, U-turns and politics of opportunism. The people of Delhi may reject him just as they did during the 2017 MCD elections but what is saddening is that students have had to pay the price because of his incompetence and lack of willingness to improve the city’s public education system.