Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Ticket to Free Education

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 May 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Assam’s Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has come out with a novel way of making people’s urge for free higher education dependent on their ability to plant a tree and to ensure that it survives and grows well enough to provide shade to people in due course. The Education Minister’s demand is neither outlandish nor irratiol. All he wants is that any student who is able to get free admission to the first year (whether higher secondary or degree level) will have to plant a tree and produce photographic evidence to show its annual growth in order to avail free admission in the second year. Sarma has said that students can plant a sapling at a place of their choice—a village, premises of college or residence, along a road, etc.—but they will have to take photographs to show the growth of the tree during the year. Only then will the admission fee in the second year be waived. This is a policy that combines free higher education with a corresponding social obligation on the part of the student. The student is required not only to plant a tree, but to take responsibility for its survival and growth. In other words, if the sapling planted does not survive, the free education of the student concerned comes to a premature end. The idea virtually forces a student to perform physical tasks in order to ensure the survival and growth of a sapling planted to secure free admission to the higher secondary or degree course. What is perhaps overlooked is the ability of our students to get such jobs (often regarded as menial tasks) done by others. Since no will verify who has actually watered and tended the sapling, a student could very easily take credit for work that someone else has done. In our society, it is normal practice for parents to exempt their children from what is considered “menial tasks” by getting someone else to do them. So, if the Education Minister had in mind the worthwhile objective of getting students to use their hands for such jobs, he can count on doting parents to foil such plans by getting domestic help for such jobs. The students concerned would only be busy taking photographs of the saplings with their mobile phones and showing them to the authorities concerned. There is also the question of being able to identify the sapling planted by a student as his/her own sapling and not one planted by someone else. In any case, people have good reason to expect afforestation activities being pursued by students who are anxious to get on with their studies. The Forest department that has not done very much in this regard lately will have to look out at others taking over their job.

Next Story