The Day We Sold Education
I come from a family of educators: my mother and my aunt were school and college teachers respectively, and my sister is a faculty at the Ohio State University, and I was blessed to study at one of the sparkling symbols of education in India, the Kendriya Vidyalaya system for a princely sum of three rupees per month (I was given a discount because my sister preceded me by a couple of years.)
Most of the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools were typically housed in ramshackle buildings donated by the Armed Forces or the local Central Government business like the Airport Authority or Railways. But none of that bothered us, because we were immersed in a system of education where the faculty held sway–brilliant people who joined the teaching system with a mission to help children change the world. By the time I graduated high school to join a college, India had discovered the system of “Donations” and “Management Quotas”–euphemisms for selling a place at the college to students who could afford to bribe the education system. In 1985, the Government of India privatized education, and for the next decade and more, the biggest money spinner was building out private colleges and schools. Volume took over, and the results are still apparent: poor quality of faculty, poorer or no facilities for research, and the highest paying students got in. We “sold” education, and sold it far-and-wide.
Today, the largest recruiting houses like TCS and Cognizant put fresh recruits through months of training to make them “just” employable.
India wasn’t (or isn’t) alone.
In a recent post, I was appalled to read about the UW-Madison’s scramble to retain faculty in a state that is struggling to retain education independence from political assault. Student debt in the U.S. is the next wave of unsecured credit, and Wall Street wolves are champing at the bits to make a play of it.
The Republican House passed a budget in 2015 that plans to roll back federal funding for education in order to balance budgets. This obviously opens doors to private funding and control by big business over education. UW Madison is just one example, there are universities across the US struggling to maintain research, retain faculty, and bring in more students into the fold even as grants and funding dry up. Faculty are forced to find million-dollar chairs, or their tenures are at stake.
The two largest democracies are ignoring the perils of messing with basic citizen rights: the access to education.
Education helps in breaking stereotypes. Education helps a human being discover him- or herself. Education unleashes mankind’s only differentiation: intelligence.
We seem to be very unintelligent about how we treat this asset. God help us.
Or perhaps, not.
Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! Johna@worldbridgepartners.com or 860-387-0503