Kejriwal’s Questionable Education Model: Delhi Government Schools Witness Downturn Under AAP Rule

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Aam Aadmi Party and Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. News18

Last week, the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) went on strike. The excited teachers marched from the Delhi University campus to the residence of the Chief Minister of Delhi, demanding their long-term salaries. This event did not get a place in the columns of the city newspapers the next day. It is another matter that on the said day the same newspapers had filled columns with all kinds of follies about the ‘yeoman’ efforts of the Delhi government.

This is the general story of the past nine years. Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has, among other things, displayed a brutal ability to practice McCarthyism. What is that now? McCarthyism is the practice of making false or baseless accusations made especially publicly and in a conspicuous manner.

Kejriwal’s Delhi model has less to do with governance and/or development, but definitely more to do with the politics of lies, based on blatant lies. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power and targeted the Sheila Dikshit-led government of Delhi for corruption, promising a fair government.

Today, Kejriwal’s sole minister is cold-bloodedly behind bars, two are under investigation for corruption and a close confidant who heads the Waqf administration has also been taken into police custody. The court has taken him into pre-trial detention.

These actions have been countered by Kejriwal supporters as vendetta politics unleashed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah. Kejriwal has said many more of his lawmakers would be arrested. For a while one can admit the point Kejriwal is making, but one must also realize that his senior minister Satyendar Jain has been denied bail in the corruption case and despite blatantly remaining a part of the cabinet.

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While it allows the law to take its course with the corruption charges levied daily against various departments, it is important in this context that the veracity of the Delhi government’s claims about its governance model – the Delhi model, independent and also actually investigated.

At the beginning of this article, we talked about the government raising its hand to support the 12 colleges of Delhi University funded by it. While the public works department has stopped maintaining these university buildings, the teachers and non-teaching staff have not received regular salaries and are not receiving any allowances, including medical allowances.

That is the status of Kejriwal’s Delhi Model of higher education. Now let’s look at the model of school education, which Kejriwal and his colleague Manish Sisodia often flaunt as the best in the world. There are some startling figures in the public domain, even on government websites, that would indicate that government schools in Delhi have witnessed a decline in progress rather than a rebound in their fortunes.

There has been a spate of government advertisements claiming that private school students are leaving in droves to attend government schools. If so, in the academic years 2013-14, the number of students in private schools was 27 percent of the total number of school-age children in Delhi. Today, this figure has risen to almost 32 percent. These numbers certainly indicate that no one left private schools to join the state schools, like the false claims in the ad paid for by taxpayers’ money.

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Another interesting facet of Kejriwal’s Delhi education model is the complete decline in the admission rate of the students appearing for the class 12 exam. In 1998-99, 44,918 students had taken the exam. In 2013-14, this number had risen to 166,257 in 2013-14, when Kejriwal came to rule Delhi. The numbers now under the Kejriwal model for the year 2021-22 have fallen to 164,641.

At the rate at which the numbers increased between 1998-2013, at least 325,000 should have appeared for the class 12 exam of the Delhi government schools by 2021-22. However, only 164,641 appeared. This shows that according to Arvind Kejriwal’s educational model, government schools in Delhi are only operating at half their potential.

The period between 1998 and 2004 was the time when the establishment of Delhi development was late. This period also showed how the city government, ruled by the chief minister of Congress, Sheila Dikshit, and the center, ruled by BJP, the stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, could put their heads together and work towards the development of the national capital.

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Not to mention the role of the BJP leadership in the MCD where the construction projects are approved and various approvals come from the public authority for building infrastructure even in the government sector. In the period between 1998 and 2013, 149 new school buildings, 15 new swimming pools, 15 sports complexes and sports coaching centers were built.

While under the Kejriwal government, only 20 new schools have been built since 2013; it’s another matter that he promised to build 500 new schools. The number of swimming pools, sports complexes and coaching centers is shockingly low. The growth in the period prior to Kejriwal’s rule could happen as different agencies under different political leaders worked together to give Delhi a new and strong infrastructure.

The leadership of the Aam Aadmi party can justify its appalling performance in Delhi, given its habit of using nuggets of McCarthyism, by saying that the BJP and Congress went hand in hand. After all, Kejriwal recently heard it said that the BJP was plotting the back door of Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Prime Minister’s office.

The writer is author and president of the Center for Reforms, Development & Justice. Opinions expressed are personal.

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