I have started reading this book titled, “The Child and the State in India” written by Myron Weiner (1991). This is quite an old book and does not capture the current situation, as India has changed quite a lot and encountered growth many folds in different areas in the past 15 years. Yet, it is quite a nice book and presents a different view or argument to the problem of the child education in India.
The central proposition that the author makes in this book about the issue of child education in India is that “India’s low per capita income and economic situation is less relevant as an explanation than the belief systems of the state bureaucracy, a set of beliefs that are widely shared by educators, social activists, trade unionists, academic researchers, and more broadly, by members of the Indian middle class.”
Whenever I think about the constraints that contribute to the lack of child education in our country, the problems that pop up in my head are:
First and foremost is the child labor. The poor people think of their children as an economic asset who can bring in income and assist them.This is contributed to by the fact that most of these poor people are ignorant of the long term benefits of providing a good education to their children. They probably don’t realize that an illiterate child can work and bring a small income now through manual work, but, if they educate that child he/she will be able to later on bring higher income to the family, improve their standard of living and bring them out of this vicious circle of poverty.
Another factor is the high drop out percentage. It can be due to reasons like the the quality of education in the government schools – behaviour or absence of teachers, qualification of teachers, lack of proper infrastructure, lack of proper teaching methods that would keep the students interested. We need to reailze that these children require more effort from the school’s side to keep them interested since the pressure from the parents side is missing or may be less.
However, the author of this book says that these are not the major hindrance to child education in India. Infact it is the Indian belief system itself that is more at fault and therefore the Indian state has been unable to or is unwilling to deal with the increasing illiteracy. The Indian view of social order has the notions of upper and lower social strata and education forms a means of maintaining differentiations among the social classes and concerns that excessive education for the poor would disrupt these existing social arrangements. The claim that the author makes in this book really got me thinking coz I had never considered this part of the story.
However, this is a huge claim and I am not sure if I can totally agree/disagree to it at this point of time. I have just started reading this book, hardly 5 pages. Lets see how it goes ahead and how the author substaintes this big claim in the book that he lays out right in the beginning.