Spicy exchanges on education quality in Delhi, Assam – The New Indian Express

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma made some valid points while parrying punches. Thankfully, their language was sharp but civil, not shrill.
Published: 30th August 2022 07:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2022 07:20 AM   |  A+A-
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (File Photo)
Recent loaded exchanges on social media between two chief ministers on the quality of education in their respective states made it quite saucy. AAP founder and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma made some valid points while parrying punches. Thankfully, their language was sharp but civil, not shrill. Kejriwal landed the first blow by questioning Assam’s decision to shut 34 government schools where not even one Class X student passed the Board exam in March last. He said shutting schools was not the solution, adding that improving them and enhancing their teaching quality was the way forward.

That was a matter-of-fact observation, but Sarma took offence, perhaps because he was education minister earlier. Since he held the position, Assam added as many as 8,610 schools, he underlined, throwing a counterpunch asking how many new schools Delhi had built since AAP came to power. While Kejriwal weaved away, a recent Delhi education department’s response to an RTI query quantified it as 63 till May 2022 against AAP’s promise of 500 in its poll manifesto in 2015. As they say, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. 
That the quality of education in Delhi’s government schools has improved is not disputed. It’s a fact that the AAP government in Delhi made bigger allocations for education than its predecessors, improved school infrastructure and sanitation and enhanced teachers’ training. Kejriwal’s joust came in the wake of a recent US media report that was appreciative of Delhi’s public schools at a time when his deputy Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, was embroiled in a liquor policy scam. But Assam is a much bigger and complex—though poor—state with over 44,000 government schools and 65 lakh students. In contrast, resource-rich urban Delhi has just 1,000-odd public schools. 
That said, such debates on universal education are welcome. Absorbing best practices from across the spectrum ought to be part of our learning curve. There is no harm in arranging mutual exchange programmes. But such matters ought to be taken up with positivity instead of netas scoring brownie points.
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