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Education Is Not A Birthright

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 came into effect in India on April 1st. “Thursday is a historic day as the Right to Education Act comes into effect. For the first time, education will become a constitutional right. It is a tryst with destiny in the area of education,” said the Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal. The act is said to “benefit” around tens of millions of children who don’t go to school presently. Educational Institutions will be forced to reserve 25% of their seats to students from weaker sections of the society. This would also mean more Government spending and regulations, like stipulation of minimum facilities and infrastructure. It is obvious that it would all lead us straight down to the totalitarian cage.

The act stipulates that teachers should be trained, and the training of untrained teachers should be done within five years. Children should be compulsorily promoted to higher classes, irrespective of their performance. Schools won’t be allowed to charge capitation fee or conduct screening tests. Schools which break the law would be penalized. Apart from paying bribes and groveling in front of bureaucrats, private school authorities should meet all these conditions. As Sumeet Mehta, CEO of Zee Learn said, “It will tamper with the only part of schooling in this country where there is some quality existing – the private unaided schools”. The only good thing that could be said of the act is that it says students shouldn’t be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment.

The expenses will be met by the Central and State government at the ratio of 55:45. The implementation of the act will cost a whopping Rs. 171,000 crore for the next five years. An amount of 25,000 crore is already released by the Finance commission. Even in the first year of the plan, the state was not able to release enough funds. 80% of the schools in India are public, educating 73% of the population. Out of them, 25% drop out by class 5th and 50% by class 8th. Only 15% of the children reach high school. 150.74 million children are enrolled in primary schools, and 88.5 million in secondary schools. According to the latest estimate eight million children out of the 19 million eligible in the age group of 6-14 years are not attending school. The central government spends 65.6% of its total education budget of Rs. 438250 million on elementary education. 9.9% is spent on secondary education, 9.5% on higher education, 10.7% on technical education and the rest on adult education and other schemes. The amount spent is less than 3% of the GDP, and in total, 10% of government spending. Interestingly, private schools teach students at a fraction of the cost (per pupil) of public schools and produce superior results.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, needless to mention, is based on the notion that education is a birth right. It should be obvious that there are no such free gifts. Positive “rights” do not exist, as it would mean infringing the rights of others-specifically, their property rights. No man should be legally obliged to provide others with particular goods and services. Education doesn’t grow simply in the nature. It is not absorbed from the atmosphere. It is a service and it ought to be provided by some if others ought to receive them as a gift. . It is not possible to make universal education a goal without initiating force against some. Taxation and regulations are violence, plain and simple.

No man should have the right to say that others should provide him with education or the means to it. Nothing is a birth right. No one says that everyone ought to be provided with food and shelter. No one asks whether people would walk naked if government is not to provide them clothes. Yet, no one opposes public funded education. There is nothing unique about education that would make it a birth right. If so, why is it that such a notion is widespread? It is because the state has emitted propaganda which would make it get a hold on children from the beginning of their lives. If they are taught right from their childhood that their life belongs to the state, it would be hard to take that notion away from them. They would cling to it. If anyone later tells him that is not the case, they would act as if just a button has been pressed and they have suddenly turned helpless and neurotic.

Public funded education is just a fraud perpetrated by the state and its parasites to control the minds of its citizens. Remarque was right when he said the First World War was created by the tricks of schoolmasters. Bonheoffer was just being honest when he said the Second World War was the inevitable product of good schooling. Ludwig Von Mises wasn’t amusing himself when he said “A healthy illiterate is always better than a crippled literate.”He most certainly meant it.

Education is largely controlled by the state in most part of the world. Even in private institutes, the syllabus is decided by the government. Currently, what is taught in schools and colleges as social sciences is mostly government propaganda. Competent teachers in the humanities either have to go without jobs or teach at lower rung institutions. If education were taken from the clutches of the government the schools would compete in deciding their curriculum and finally reach closer to the objective truth.

It is a wide spread myth is that due to government funded education, children who would have no chance of getting an education otherwise gets a chance-that they get a fair start in life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. On a free market, where there is no taxation, regulations, unemployment and inflation-where there is free trade and high capital investment, few would be incapable of providing their children with education. Those few can rely on voluntary charity, scholarships and other means of funding their education. Even in the hampered market that we have, there is overwhelming evidence that private unrecognized schools teaching slum children are many times as better as public schools. What the proponents of public education forget is that the money spent on public education is taken from the tax payer and taxation hampers production and reduces the incentives to produce. It reduces wages in the long run and hence makes private education out of reach of most parents who otherwise would have been able to pay for private education.

One of the most fallacious arguments in favor of public funded education is that all children should given ‘equal opportunity’. Left liberals have given their own twists to Adam Smith’s views on the subject. Some of the modern economists of now, and the previous century, including Milton Friedman are of the same opinion, which brings into contradiction all of their views. Even Bentham believed children are to be given a firm foundation in Utilitarianism. Opportunities are floating around us all the time. Are they to be thrown into ones lap or to be seized?

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