We are agreed that it is only by educating our people that India will see productivity and health gains

. We need all to be schooled, at least up to the primary level and then some more for these gains to be realised. This is what they started calling the demographic dividend when the surge in numbers was estimated. There is a bulge in the population that needs to be included in the education system which is a larger challenge than most countries have ever faced. To that end, one of the principles on which Indian education policy is founded is equity. What does this mean? Does it mean that all students in one class must get equal marks and ranks? No. It does not. Does it mean that in a competitive examination, or in a bar examination all applicants get equal positions? Clearly not. Then what is this equality or equity (not exactly the same meaning). The challenge for any education system is to ensure that everyone has a chance to succeed in life. If their life circumstances have been such that they have been unable to achieve as well as a more privileged student, then they deserve a chance to overcome their circumstances and prove themselves. So, if a poor child who had to study with scant books, no internet, little electricity and no desk among other deprivations and responsibilities, then the child deserves a little leg up to be able to compete with someone who lived in a fully powered aircondtioned house with a study and a library and access to resources and networks. This is a support to those who have the capability to overcome their context and create their own future. These children must be given an equal chance to participate in education.
An equal chance to participate. That is at the centre of inclusion and equity. Everyone gets a chance to be in at the party. To come in, join as a peer. But then you have to behave like all the rest. You have to perform at work. There is no equity in results. So a student who enters a school under an RTE quota or a student who enters a professional course under some reservation scheme or another (and the logic for that may be outdated - but that is for another day) will have a chance to join in the class exactly like everybody else. That student will be expected to work as hard as anybody else. Sometimes they may even need to work harder to overcome the gaps in previous education. They may even need to work harder if they have less access to resources in their personal life than their peers. For example, one child may need to help out at the shop after work (rich or poor) while another may go to a tuition session. The student who works in the evenings will certainly have to compensate sometime and ensure that the pace is maintained. Because now that the playing field is level, all are equals in the classroom. And it is a normal race from now on. Does it actually work like that? Not always. A child who seeks admission under RTE may be discriminated against in the classroom due to callousness or insensitivity. Not deliberate. Studies have shown that students who had their caste identified before a test performed worse compared to when they were treated like everyone else. There is a case to be made for training teachers to deal with a classroom equitably despite any provocation.

the ones who will have such successful parents that they do not need the indulgence of affirmative action any more. This.a perpetual machine would mean that there is no hope of its being able to meet its objectives and raising levels. Like it or not. said in hope. Affirmative action. the children who come into schools via the RTE act are in need of such honest support. primary school children perform roughly the same if . The cheats are the real enemy who exploit affirmative action schemes for their own personal or tribal good. It is a noble goal. . flawed or otherwise. and with honest intent. The success of affirmative action is in its self redundancy. In their success is the foundation of the generation that comes after them . Affirmative action cannot be a perpetual bailout machine. and it is extremely sad when such a system is abused by those with low morals. Equity would entail giving the disadvantaged access to after school libraries. These are the scum of the earth who eat into the share of those who deserve the chance by merit and of those who need the support because of the combination merit and their means.It is tougher to deal with students from a wider range of society and educational backgrounds. especially when limited in its scope and duration is a strong mechanism to encourage everyone to skill themselves for productive lives. It is also tough to work with a class of forty students when ten of then may be operating at a lower grade level than the others. and across various social backgrounds. They must be called out . It is a worthwhile investment by society. Again.and I repeat if they are given the same kind of education and inputs.among other things. Equity is about giving everyone a fair chance to go beyond the circumstances of their birth and to work themselves out of poverty. studies have proven that across income ranges. Provided it is done right. a person to ask questions and advice and a mentor who teaches them not to hesitate at the door to the library .a slow but sure battle ahead. They need to be offered that level playing platform that helps them succeed. It loses its very reason .

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