Recently I was invited to address teachers of primary and high schools on the strengths of the educational system in Goa. After detailed research I was able to confirm that the state definitely has an edge in education and there are merits of educational system in Goa. There were two important premises on which I based my findings. First, I applied comparative method to understand the issue at hand. I compared the present education in Goa with others states in India. And second, I strongly pitched for the argument that the small size of the state has been a big advantage for the educational system in Goa. The small size has reduced the gap between the rulers and ruled and the former are answerable to the later. The resultant accessibility, administrative convenience, the shorter distance between the nucleus and the periphery of the state all has benefitted the educational sector in Goa.
Education has been always given priority in Goa. The credit goes to the first Chief Minister of Goa, Late Shri Bahusaheb Bandodkar, who prioritized education. He started primary schools in remote parts of Goa. His dictum was ‘Wada tethe Shaala’. Today the literacy rate of the state is 87.40 percent, male literacy being 92.81 and female literacy is 81.84 percent. We have primary school within the radius of every three Sq. km, middle school at every 9.39 and secondary school at every 9.37 Sq Km. The teacher pupil ratio is 1:25 at primary level which is much better than state like Bihar where the ratio is 1:40. There are 1234 primary schools, 456 middle schools, 395 secondary schools, 92 high schools, 87 higher secondaries, 25 special schools, 21 open schools, 25 degree colleges and 31 professional colleges in the state. (All the statistics are based on Educational statistics at A Glance 2013-14 published by Directorate of Education, Government of Goa). The PPP (Public Private Partnership) model functions cordially in Goa. There are private schools, government run schools and colleges, as well as government aided institutions.
The rural urban gap is much narrow in this small state. The ‘Rurban project’ of the present Modi Government which aims to generate smart villages, has subtly existed in the state all this while. There is a very thin line between rural and urban in most part of Goa. Though there are 190 villages in Goa, most of these are rurban. Also the gender gap has declined over the years.
Infrastructural facilities, both physical as well as pedagogic, are sound in the state. The Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (GSIDC) has repaired the old schools in Goa. The schools have classrooms with proper seating arrangements and blackboards. And as Dr Abdul Kalam commented that though black colour is sentimental, the blackboards have helped in brightening the lives of the students. Teacher students’ ratio is much more appeasing and emphasis is led on trained teachers. Books are made available in the beginning of the academic year, and curriculum is updated to keep in synchrony and uniformity with all India level. Balrath Yojana and Mid-day meal Scheme are operational in Goa.
There is availability of toilets. Even if they are not in good conditions and may not have always running waters, their availability has reduced the drop-out rate in girls in puberty as happens in other parts of the country.
The medium of instruction at high school and higher education is English. Proficiency in English can be of advantage for people in Goa. It prepares the person to carry out conversation in English, equips to study further in other states of India or abroad, facilitates seeking jobs elsewhere, and it is a window for knowledge and information on technological front.
Goa is almost a metropolis. Tourism and mining has converted Goa into an important hub for regional and international connections, commerce and communication. People from other states have made Goa their second home. Their children are pursuing education in Goa which has led to amalgam of cultures. The different customs, festivals, food habits, dress codes, exchange of values and the whole blending of different cultures has led to reforming education in Goa and making it more relevant.
Informed and awakened parents are an asset to educational system in Goa. Parents in Goa believe that education is the key for upward mobility. They are willing to sacrifice and save to educate their children. They are alert and assertive and have proved on several occasions, whether it was medium of instruction issue, or security of children in schools, that they are concerned with what is best for their wards.
Though there are sufficient numbers of schools and colleges in Goa, however the lone university, Goa University is facing a bigger challenge today as it cannot accommodate the increasing demand of students for post graduation. The availability of seats for different courses is limited, thus denying the students the right for post graduate studies. Providing higher education is the best way to empower the excluded sections of the society and is the most painless way to redress the historic wrongs. Goa University has to act fast and act in an affirmative manner.
The small size of the state and its secular framework has served best manures for reaping the fruits of education in Goa. There is further need to diversify education, start and nurture new institutions of excellence, and most importantly universalize education where everybody desirous should have access and inclusion in education. The state has required conducive environment for education, so what is now required, in words of Abdul Kalam, is ‘ignited minds’ to convert Goa into an educational hub.