Amid the controversy over the move to scrap the tenth board examination, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said it is an experiment that is still being debated and felt no decision should be taken in haste.
“We are still debating on this issue. This is an experiment. We should not take a decision in haste”, Singh told a group a children during an interaction organised by CNN-IBN on the occasion of Children’s Day.
He was asked whether children are not being made weak by the decision to do away with the tenth board examination. “You are shielding them from difficulties,” a student asked.
Government had in September announced abolition of compulsory CBSE Board exams for class X from next academic year (2010-11) and introduction of grading system from current year.
Asked as to why education was getting costlier by the day, Dr. Singh said this was so only in private schools. In government schools, every effort was being made to ensure that education did not become a privilege for only the rich.
On what government was doing for children who are not in schools and are living on roads and begging, Dr. Singh said, “it pains me a lot. We are trying to educate all children under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan”.
Appearing relaxed, 77-year-old Dr. Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur seated by his side, answered with ease questions from children ranging from rising prices and coalition politics.
The Prime Minister said government was trying very hard to control the price rise. “We are trying to stabilise the prices and we hope in a year we will see a better control on the price rise“.
Asked why he spoke very little, he said, “when you have a coalition government to run, there is no use in talking too much. And I think things get complicated when you talk more“.
Dr. Singh was dismissive of opposition describing him as a “weak” Prime Minister.
“It does not make much of a difference to me.... To criticise is the opposition’s job. I am not afraid of that”, he said.
Peace and amity important
On why he was trying to keep the dialogue process with Pakistan going, he said peace and amity was important between the two countries.
About the violence in the North East, Singh said he was aware that the situation particularly in Assam and Manipur was not okay.
“Efforts are being undertaken to control extremist organisations like ULFA. We are trying to control them. We will be able to control them in the days to come,” he said.
On why Indians win Nobel Prize only after they leave the country, Singh said, “in India we do not have an atmosphere where much importance is give to people who can think out of box.”
“The trend of questioning things has not been a part of our education system and this is why we see that when Indian children go abroad, they do much better in terms of education and research.”
Dr. Singh recalled the first time he had met Jawaharlal Nehru who had come to the Punjab University for the Convocation Address. He was then teaching at the university.
“It was a most moving experience for me because he used to talk to anyone who had the courage to walk up to him. It was life’s wish of many to touch Pandit Nehru’s hand but his security forces would not let that happen,” he said.
Keywords: 10th board exams, still debated, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, wife Gursharan Kaur, speaks to children, barrage of questions, peace and amity, dialogue with Pakistan, India-Pakistan relations, India's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, Children's Day