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The British introduced a system of education to prepare personnel to perpetuate the Raj. During colonial rule in India, several initiatives were taken to provide education which was attuned to India’s cultural traditions and people’s needs. The most prominent among them were Gandhian basic education, Islamic madrassahs and gurukuls (abodes of gurus). Despite association of eminent leaders of the freedom movement these innovations remained peripheral – the British Indian education held sway.
Even after India attained freedom (1947) the old educational system remained, with few changes. It has tended to accentuate the class and caste divisions. There have been many attempts to introduce innovations which may depart from the established educational pattern. Some of the recent innovations which were thought to be very promising include:
a) a programme for the elimination of child labour and to bring into schools all children up to 14 years of age in Andhra Pradesh – initiated by a famous NGO called MV Foundation;
b) Lok Jumbish (literally, people’s movement), a comprehensive programme for renewal of primary education in Rajasthan;
c) Education Guarantee Scheme of Madhya Pradesh, where the government responds to community demand with provision of minimum essential facilities for primary education; and
d) Doosra Dashak (literally, the second decade), a programme for relevant education and empowerment of persons in the 11-20 age group and to make it a lever of social and economic development.
Many exciting new things are happening in Indian education. However, the more it seems to change, the more it remains the same: a huge unbending system of education which is perhaps at the root of much that is wrong with India.
Mr. Anil Bordia was born in Indore in India in 1934 and was educated at Udaipur in Rajasthan and the University of Delhi. In 1957 he entered the Indian Administrative Service.
As a civil servant, Mr. Bordia chose to specialize in education, and was head of educational administration in the state of Rajasthan from 1964 to 1968. He joined India’s federal Ministry of Education as Joint Secretary in 1974 and in 1977 was appointed to the position of Director-General of India’s National Adult Education Programme. It was at this time that Mr. Bordia formulated India’s Adult Education Policy for which he is so renowned.
Mr. Bordia taught at the UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) Paris between 1980 and 1982. He was recalled to the federal Ministry of Education in 1985 as Additional Secretary with responsibility for preparing the National Policy on Education. Along with the (then) Minister of Education, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Bordia succeeded in securing a national consensus on policy issues and was able to obtain Indian Parliament’s endorsement of the policy in May 1986. Between 1987 and 1992 he served as India’s Education Secretary, and had the opportunity to implement the new education policy.
During his tenure as Education Secretary, a clear shift of priority was made to basic education. He was responsible for pioneering projects concerning the universalization of primary education, for the states of Bihar and Rajasthan. The Rajasthan project is called Lok Jumbish, which means “People’s Movement for Education”. This project was started by Mr. Bordia immediately after his retirement from government in 1992 and he remained its chair until 1999. Lok Jumbish has come to be recognized as an exceptionally innovative and successful project.
In 2001 he started another innovative project called Doosra Dashak (literally, the second decade) which is for education and development of persons in the 11-20 age group.
Mr. Anil Bordia has played a significant role in international education, particularly in UNESCO activities. He was Vice-Chair of the UNESCO Institute for Education (UIE), Hamburg from 1976 to 1982, and Chairman of the International Bureau of Education (IBE), Geneva, from 1980 to 1982. He was one of the planners and leaders of the Jomtien Conference on Education for All in March 1990 where his influence was extremely significant in securing the commitment to EFA. He also made an important contribution at the Dakar Conference, April 2000.
For excellence in the sphere of Education, he was elected Fellow of UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Centre of Educational Innovation for Development (ACEID), Bangkok in 1996 and in 1999 UNESCO awarded to him the prestigious Avicenna Gold Medal for Exceptional Contribution to Educational Development.
Mr. Bordia has dedicated his life to education, and particularly to education for disadvantaged people. His voice matters in international organizations and in the government of his country. It is also a voice which inspires workers and teachers in far flung areas of his large country.