The Congress Party-led governing coalition has staked its reputation with rural voters on delivering education to the masses and other populist legislation, such as laws guaranteeing jobs and access to public information. The number of Indian children not enrolled in school decreased to an estimated 8.1 million in 2009 from 25 million in 2003, according to the World Bank, which says providing schools for these 8.1 million children—and making sure they don't drop out without at least completing elementary education—remains a key challenge.
Dear India, have your many gifted scholars studied the history and structure of mass public schooling with a critical eye? There are many lessons to be learned: and one is, I believe, that schools should provide educational services to the citizens and not the other way around. The children and youth should not provide compulsory labor for an educational institution. Children and citizens need learning centers providing educational services for their communities but using schools to manufacture literacy and gaining an economic boost from the jobs in these literacy factories is not a sustainable economic plan as it brings a factory approach to human learning and relationships.
BELOW: One view of compulsory attendance in literacy factories, note the emphasis on the nation-state and state allegiance:
Education is completely about human beings: it cannot be manufactured like cameras and to limit the input and role of the human beings in this system is illogical and ultimately inhumane. The US system now wastes an enormous amount of human capital. It is a 19th century idea of education and it is costly and wasteful. That the select topmost portion of people benefit from such a system is true but at what cost? And there is a growing body of work on the side effects of literacy itself and its linkage to hierarchical systems. The socialization of children within such mass institutions is another issue of growing concern unnoticed when schooling was still contained within strong communities that have eroded.
BELOW: Another view of compulsory attendance and how the bureaucracy it creates actually works, note the negative interactions of children now state-socialized in age-restricted groups for long hours:
Education must, when all is said and done, be voluntary. Forced education is mass brainwashing; true learning is undertaken by a human being. And learning is something human beings do naturally. Punitive or compulsory approaches add police and enforcement and though many poor families and their children are easily coerced, the real damage of the enforcement arm is the attitude it creates among the schools themselves and among the citizenry, as they begin using and accepting coercion in their daily life. It is an open question whether mass public schooling in the US has not increased acculturation to hierarchy and authoritarian methods as seen in the inability of the US to stay out of foreign wars.
A third way is here (from a previous post). Entire learning centers could be run on an open-access basis, with interest-driven as well as family-driven services provided. Negative socialization would be lessened in a more diverse social environment and instead of nation-state emphasis, voluntary and open-access would create democratic context: