Monday, September 28, 2009

Educational Reforms - A Matter of Opinion?

The considerations that go into making a public policy, especially on education which does not have a quantifiable economic output, is a complex one. But most times reforms are driven by things that are obvious to the reformer or the social class that the reformer represents.

Reforms should first be justified by the need for reforms--although there could be multiple versions of needs as well as reforms, at least we need a ground from where to start. Here are some fundamental questions: What are the ills that are plaguing our school system (school system, yes--not necessarily education system)? Should schools assess students’ progress and if so how? Is the school system in tune with the changing times? Is it necessary for a school system to keep pace with the times and if so how? Do we need a school system to begin with? Considering we have the answers to all the above questions, on what basis do we address them? I have my answers, you have yours and reformers will have theirs. But these answers mean nothing if these are not supported by hard evidence (is there such a thing as hard evidence in the field of education?).

On the other hand, reforms are most often the product of certain belief systems. When you have a belief system, you only tend to look for evidences that support your beliefs. But these beliefs or ideologies (if that word has any meaning left in it) are always shrouded by the articulation of good intentions and the evocation of some universal values (and these sound quite impressive when expressed in public school accents on English news channels in India).

Very simply put, educational reforms end up being a matter of opinion--worse still, the opinion of a few people.
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