Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Compulsory Education up to 21 years of age for all

Why can't education be made universal and compulsory until 21 years of age ? At least in major democracies, education infrastructure is already in place with both government and private players. Governments around the world spend millions on child care and education and yet there is a considerable proportion of children suffering from mal-nourishment and illiteracy. Quite often, we find children working in eat outs, commercial establishments and farms. In some extreme situations, we come across children working in even hazardous plants. Agreed that in most cases, these children may be the bread-winners of the family. But that cannot be a reason for children not attending schools and colleges. There are other welfare schemes in place for adults. At least during schooling hours, children should be prohibited from work.

Governments have to make education compulsory until 21 years of age for all children. Any employment schemes that lock-in children into future jobs before 21 should be withdrawn whether government or private. We need to give an opportunity for individual growth and development. That is only possible with education and vocational training under learned teachers. We need to give our children all possible opportunities to make their career choices. The importance of education need not be over emphasized and irrespective of the field that an individual chooses education is critical.

Private educational institutions with a reasonably large revenue size can be asked to provide 10 to 20% of their seats to children from poorer economic backgrounds and disclose these details in tax returns. Plus we already have government schools and programs in place. Many large corporations are proactive and have already taken up the cause of education as part of their social responsibility. This should be sufficient to meet the educational needs of our children to a large extent. Our children are our future and their well-being should be of utmost importance to us.

By leveraging smart phone technology and internet penetration, the entire academic curriculum can be made available online and can be accessed any time. Using unique identification number issued to every child at birth, the progress of every child can be recorded and tracked at every administrative level. Wherever, there are deviations like incidences of increase in school drop-outs, necessary action can be taken.

All democracies must accumulate political will to implement 21 years of compulsory education and it should not be a distant dream!

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