The "Diversity of Education Practices" Debate started off on 11th February with interesting debates by alumni and research students of JNU in discussion with each other, in the dynamic presence of Vimala Ramachandran, the eminent activist and National Fellow, NUIEPA, over very different positions and interlocutions of the previous day's narratives. So Shereena Banu asked for the return to the secular in class rooms, while Manaf said what was significant was access to education, and the frameworks within which hygiene and food and the spaces allowing rural children to enable themselves was a priority. The Lutheran Arcot Mission delegates communicated that state support for education in whatever form it appeared was why the mid day meal scheme and state sanctioned salaries for their schools made teaching fruitful in Aided schools.The book which is planned by the contributions of the resource persons of the debate, will put the materials more clearly in place, which each author elaborating the debate and voicing the details of the general arguments I have placed on their behalf.
At Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, the Director, Prof Mahesh Rangarajan pivoted the argument around the use of link languages in Education. Jane Sahi's life work of vernacular education for primary school education was then the nucleus of a debate between the Chairperson for the discussion, Prof Nachimuthu (Head of the Centre for Indian Languages, JNU) and Director NMML and this became an interesting moment, when the sociological view, and the cognitive view was placed side by side as Nachimuthu put it. The Sociological view, he said is that English is an important language for the Dalits because it promotes occupational mobility, the cognitive view is that in the early years, vernacularisation is necessary at the primary school training because it makes the child confident in his/her mother tongue, and sets the space for the survival of ancient cultural resources, whether oral or literate.
Jaya Iyer, the Director of the Children's Centre, with the team of librarian, summer camp director and museum guide, at Teen Murti house gave us a wonderful sense of how children looked at extra curricular activity as a happy space in which they looked at parallel learning programmes which are supported by their schools, teachers and parents. Thanks again to all the delegates who came from very distant places and obscure villages where their work is recognised among the local communities they serve. And thanks to Priyamwada Some for orchestrating the meeting at NMML, Teen Murti Bhavan.
We had a wonderful time for the two days, so thank you JNU for funding this first dialogue between our many organisations.