Common school system (CSS) can be defined as a system of schools providing education of an equitable quality to all children, irrespective of their caste, creed, community, language, gender, economic condition, social status and physical or mental ability. The commonness of the CSS derives from the application of common minimum norms and standards of quality education by all schools in the system. As the Kothari Commission points out, “the system should be maintained at an adequate level of quality and efficiency so that no parent would ordinarily feel any need to send his child to the institutions outside the system.”. The common minimum norms and standards ensure both the quality and equality of the system.
The equal education system is the bridge between the rich and the poor, which has not been implemented till date due to the caucus of the elite classes in power.
A common school system is the concept of a community-based school chain where rich and poor children read, write and play together under one roof, that is, Comparatively quality education should be provided for all students regardless of economy, caste, religion, place or gender. A common school system should mean a system of education where no private school exists and the Govt schools have infrastructure in such a manner that the child of every person of the Country studies in the Govt. School. It is wholly funded by the State. No fees are levied and children are entitled to free education.
In the 1830s, Horace Mann proposed common schools, that is, tax-funded schools attended by all the children from the neighbourhood, irrespective of their social backgrounds. For Mann, such schools were crucial to fostering social harmony, political stability, and economic growth in a republican democracy. Horace Mann was often called the Father of the Common School. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, ensuring that every child could receive a basic education funded by local taxes. His influence soon spread beyond Massachusetts as more states took up the idea of universal schooling.
The common school would mitigate class conflict, circumvent anarchy, enhance civic engagement, and perhaps most importantly inculcate moral habits, all by molding society’s most malleable members.The basic aim of CSS is to provide equitable quality elementary education to all children of the society.
Mahatma Gandhi proposed Basic Education which had the characteristics of a Common School System. Thus even before the Kothari Commission came up with the concept of Common School System, the idea was there for a long time. Main Indian conceptor of the common school system was D.S.Kothari.
The concept of Neighborhood School or Common School System (CSS) was given in the Kothari Commission itself. Professor Anil Sadgopal, the great educationist of India says, “The recommendation of the Kothari Commission was accepted thrice, namely the first National Policy on Education (1968), the second National Policy on Education (1986) and the revised version of 1986 (1992), that is, the plan of action, but there was a blatant violation of the common school system by creating different types of school systems for different social sections. D. S.Kothari had a heartfelt desire that after the NEP-1968, it should be fully planned and implemented, but it was not so and the education system of his dreams could not be implemented till date.
After good governance in Bihar (2005), the Common School System Commission was formed. It was a matter of great pride for Bihar that for the first time a commission was constituted to implement a common education system. Retired Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey was the President and Dr. Madan Mohan Jha, the then Education Secretary, was its Secretary and eminent educationist Professor Anil Sadgopal was a member.
The Commission submitted its report of 313 pages to the Government on 8 June 2007. Academic support of SCERT, Patna was also supported in preparing the report.The commission said that during the next five years, the curriculum and syllabus of all primary and middle schools in the state would be modified on the basis of Gandhian pedagogy. Knowledge acquisition, value creation and skill development through work are the objectives of the Commission.
The Common School System seeks to link equality of educational opportunity and social justice, so that all have access to an equal quality of education; In order to ensure this, the Commission aimed to resolve the necessary provisions and standards. CSS means modern, progressive, quality, scientific and geo-cultural characteristics and merits of different communities based on such curriculum education systems, in which giving education is completely the responsibility of the government i.e. from government school building to qualified teachers and the control over it will be with the society. No one will get the freedom to buy education on money in the same education system. The concept of a common school system (Bihar) could have proved to be a key that would open multiple locks simultaneously. Locks were installed on those doors which would open towards the future of not only Bihar but also India. This Master Key would also open the locks of communalism, discrimination and marketization of education. CSS establishes a new egalitarian society, which would not only show the future of Bihar, but the entire country, would make the future bright by showing a mirror. But what happened was that the CSS, which people had much hope for, was never introduced in the Bihar Legislature.
CSS has been distorted by the RTE-2009 in such a way that a plan was made to implement it piece by piece. The back door of privatization was opened in primary education on the pretext of 25% Public Private Partnership (PPP). It was the ill-fated attempt to cut the CSS, which acted as a fuse bulb and stopped the further development of the CSS.If it was implemented, then where was the need then the right to free and compulsory education was mentioned in 2009? RTE-2009 is only a part of CSS.
The right question is why in 54 years till date the CSS could not be implemented in our country? If it was implemented, it would have been a revolutionary step in school education. It is a cultivation of an education-like plant. Right to education without a CSS is a mere shame.
In Unni Krishnan, J.P. v/s State of Andhra Pradesh Case, there was talk of nurturing and educating children from birth till life, but Unnikrishnan did not get success in that. The constitutional question as to whether the “right to life” in Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides a fundamental right to education for the people of India. The petitions were made that higher education should also be part of the right to education. The key point on the part of the petitioner is that, because the right to education extends to primary education, it, therefore, extends to higher education. The bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court disapproved of the argument, and the appeal was dismissed.
It is a good thing that in the National Education Policy-2020, the responsibility of education from the age of 3 years to 18 years rests with the government, this step is admirable.
A great feature of the common school system is that whether the son of a leader or an officer, he will study in the same village or city school within which his house comes in that habitation area. Now the advantages can be understood as follows. If the son of MPs or MLAs or MLCs or ministers studies and officers in the same broken school where ordinary children study, then how much change will come? Just imagine! From infrastructure to academic condition will improve.The general public will get the benefit of this. So this system is a revolutionary step.Then there will be no need to teach children in expensive private schools. Private schools will cover their sacks and government schools will start dazzling. A similar idea has been envisioned in a neighborhood school or CSS, which has many advantages.The distortion of marketization of education will also end.
The elite class do not want to implement the CSS. Why would special and influential parents of children studying in English convents pay attention to government schools? They think that poor people do not learn the ways of white collared. They don’t want to see the general public to get to enjoy celebrity culture. Perhaps, it would be against their pride. This is the bitter truth of the society even today.
History is witness that in 1911, when Gopal Krishna Gokhale brought a bill to make primary education compulsory in the British Legislative Council, it was not allowed to pass. Darbhanga Maharaj ridiculed him saying that when the children of the poor are educated, who will do our serfdom? Suppose that in a way he said, ” Agara saba kuttā Kāsiye cala jāyī, taba Handiyā kauna dhuna dhunāyī? Who will do slavery when everyone starts studying? This indigestible mentality of the princely people had stopped the vehicle of compulsory primary education long before it moved, otherwise the journey of education would have been very nice since then and the common education system would have been implemented long ago.
Pareto’s Elite and J.S.Mile’s Power Elite36 dominate our country in all kinds of policy making and implementation. Thus, Pareto’s ‘lion and fox’ occupying power by making false promises at any cost. The politicians and the wealthy fit perfectly into this template. The ruling class, military officers, officers and even after retiring from special posts, people who get respect in the society come in the power elite, which has dominance in the society. Influential people do not allow education policies to be implemented even after they are made because they are the core of positive social change. Their role remains directly or indirectly to upset the apple cart of the general public.The plan of many policies is never taken off the ground due to being built by the elite in air conditioned rooms, due to which the ground reality never reaches there. If we go into its background in Indian society, then casteism cannot be completely rejected.
Karl Marx divided the society into two classes – exploitative bourgeoisie and exploited proletariat. If a small sapling is planted under a banyan tree, will it grow? Maybe not. It will neither get sunlight nor carbon dioxide. Chlorophyll will also not be available in sufficient quantities. Photosynthesis will not occur. It will turn yellow. In Indian society the rich are getting richer and the poor are becoming poorer. Small capitalists are unable to stand before the big capitalists, and above all, privatization has made the rich like Karun (a wealthy king of Turkey, whose key to the treasury could not be carried even on 40 camels). The key to the treasury is handed over to the rich. Common people are becoming the soft target of industrialists and capitalists. After all, only the lower and middle class have to bear with everything, be it inflation or unemployment, because money speaks everywhere. The bourgeoisie has kept the proletariat in the clutch by means, price, punishment and distinction. After the implementation of the National Education Policy-2020, there is an apprehension that the corporate world may also employ educated and trained youth on low wages;Because government jobs are slowly being eliminated. All jobs are going to be available on contract only and in this only the employer will run; the employer will get them out whenever they want.
In conclusion, it can be said that the garden of education which was shown by the conceptor of the common school system, Dr. Daulat Singh Kothari; roots and shoots of that garden could not bear the gust of cold winds. Our social structure is a hindrance in the implementation of the common school system, otherwise when the bill would have turned into an act and the act would have come into force. We would all be saying: If we are alive then believe in the victory of life. If there is heaven somewhere, then bring it down on the ground.