Education Subsidized?

When I stepped into Delhi University my eyes popped by merely looking at the fees. It was not even half of what I had paid studying at the best private school in my city. This is advantageous for the common man as the best government colleges of our country are known to charge a really low fee.

Studying in the college, I found out about the diversity that our country possesses not only in the social context but also from the economic point of view. All kinds of students adorn the campus, from those wearing the best of brands to those with simple clothes, from those not wearing a dress twice to those having only limited stock, for whom the fees are a fortnight’s pocket money to those for whom it is almost half of their income.

All seemed immaterial in front of the motive of coming to college and achieving one more milestone on the road of learning and becoming stronger and illustrious an individual, for being able to live a decent life in future. This was convincing enough that even the lower middle class can expect good education in India, depending upon the student’s merit. The belief was solidifying when I heard a student saying to her friend, “I really want to give two of my University exam papers for the revaluation but do not have the courage to ask my parents for Rs. 500 per paper. I really do not know how they would manage it.” The results of the revaluation made her even sadder as one of the girl’s marks increased. I was really forced to question what I had thought earlier. Your family income does matter even if you are studying at the subsidized rates. Taking out Rs. 1000 or even Rs. 500 for a paper is not a mean task for every family.

This is not the only case. Looking at and analyzing other aspects of education as well makes us realize that money is an important instrument certainly facilitating learning. Education perhaps is not only bookish knowledge. There are other instruments that contribute to the process of our learning as well. Extra curricular and co curricular activities are the best examples.

The Model United Nations example will help to establish this point. Delhi University is known for its Model United Nation (MUN) which is just a form of having the practice of United Nations at University level. Most of the students who have the yearning to know more about countries find interest in the MUN and represent various countries as delegates. It requires extensive research and convincing abilities. Recently, the DU MUN ended. I was shocked that the registration fees of this 3 day proceeding was an exorbitant Rs. 600. This is enough to deter many young and able entrants to showcase their talents in such activities due to their inability to afford such high entrance fees for a competition.

This happens with every society, where the participants representing their colleges pay for their traveling, arrange for their costumes, etc. enough to dissuade any budding artist from joining such societies. This further creeps into the recruitment process as the recruiters look for the best C.V, for it is a symbol of overall development of the student. Such students then stand apart from the rest due to the opportunities they might have been able to grasp because of money. Needless to say, highest packages often go to those who have had such experiences and this cycle continues.

Apart from this the necessary condition of entering any college is filling its form. Even forms of the premier colleges such as IIT cost Rs. 1000 for boys and CAT application forms cannot be bought without Rs. 1500. Even regional universities of technical and management learning are seen charging whooping amounts by selling their respective forms. Though education loan is available from the banks, it will never buy you a form…

The message is clear, somewhere, somehow money constraints talent. And this deprivation starts from the time a child is born. Government primary schools (which charge, nominal fees from students) fail to provide decent education while the good quality private schools are within the realms of only the well to do families.

Even the coaching sector that has become a million dollar industry in our country is known to charge exorbitant amount per subject and makes success tough for students who cannot afford that much.

Looking at all this I would not be wrong in saying that opportunities can be grasped mostly by the wealthy. Money has started governing the choice of our careers. But every child has the right to choose their own career depending upon the interest, irrespective of what financial status the child is born in. Though privatization has given us quality it has also widened the inequalities. Even government aided institutions though known for charging minimal fees have various other sources of discrimination on the basis of money. When we aim at equality, it should not only be the fees being taken into consideration but also the things we talked about.

Juhi Gupta

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