The education scenario in the State has worsened from what it was during the 1960s and 70s and there has been an unseen level of commercialization and caste and class based prejudices in the field of education and that too in primary education, according to V.Vasanthi Devi, Chairperson of the Institute of Human Rights Education (IHRE).
She was delivering the special address after releasing the ‘Chennai Declaration,' a document which talks about the various aspects of education and what the Tamil Nadu government should do in the education field, here at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary on Wednesday. She also said that the idea of Samacheer Kalvi as envisioned by the Tamil Nadu Government only serves to bring a common syllabus for schools, while the equality in education is missing.
The declaration is an outcome of a consultative meeting held in Chennai where experts in the field of education presented their views on what the TN Government should do today in the field of education. The discussion also covered the “predatory” fee system in schools and the implementation of the Right to Education Act in the state.
Ms.Vasanthi Devi stated that it's an illusion that Tamil Nadu is doing well in education, “Performance of a few elite schools cannot be taken into account and then assert that we are doing well.” A survey of the performance of rural schools in India throws upon light on the condition of education in the state.
Social audits and public hearings on the school management committees have revealed how most schools in some parts of Tamil Nadu lack basic amenities like drinking water and functional toilets, she said. She also referred to the case of Cuba and said how the socialist nation did well by spending 11 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product on free education and stands first in the world. She also stated that the most capitalistic of nations do not have such levels of commercialization in the world. We need common school system and neighbourhood school systems to make Right to Education a reality, she said.
The Chennai Declaration was released, Vasanthi Devi released the document and the first copy was received by N.Nanmaran former MLA, Madurai East.
A Tamil documentary film, ‘Enakku Illaya Kalvi? (Don't I have the right to education?), was screened. The film Directed by Bharathi Krishnakumar portrayed the condition Tamil Nadu's government schools and talks about the existing reality of education as discriminatory and prohibitory to the large sections of the masses on various accounts.
How class and caste based prejudices in the hierarchical society gets reflected in the education field not only through denial of opportunities for the marginalized but by implementing the hierarchy in the classroom spaces were also discussed in the film.
John Moses, State General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Janata Dal, E.Devasahayam, Director, IHRE, P.Vijayakumar, former secretary, MUTA also spoke on the occasion.