Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Freebies, incentives & education.

It is election time in Tamil Nadu, India. To allure voters, political parties released their electoral manifesto with promise of various freebies and schemes. There are lot of debate in TV channels and new papers about socio-economic impact of these freebies & incentive schemes on government, society and individuals.

I knew one area that freebies did a wonder - Education. I grew up in rural Tamil Nadu, India and did my primary & pre-university education at govt sponsored school. During pre-economic reforms, liberalization era, to attract students to schools & reduce ownership/cost of education for parents, there were freebies & incentives for school going kids, particularly in rural India (where illiteracy, poverty was prevalent). Here i list freebies (that i could remember) distributed in my school

Primary School.
  • No school fees.
  • Tooth powder (Distributed first week of every month).
  • Mid day meals (Every day, free lunch).
  • Vitamin food balls (Every month, last Friday)
  • Note pads, pencil (Twice a year).
  • Geometry boxes & school books (Once a year).
  • Stitched school uniform (couldn't remember distribution frequency)
Middle & High school.
  • No school fees, Mid day meals, Note pads, books & school uniform.
  • Bicycle (For students who passed 8th grade. This was major attraction).
If you pass 10th grade, you are
  • Eligible to apply for limited bank loan without capital asset (This was major attraction).
  • Eligible to apply for heavy wheeler driving license (Lorry, Truck, Bus etc).
India's economic reforms, liberalization started in mid 1990, had reduced need of these incentives. Today incentives like "Free tooth powder" are no longer exist & not many people depend on these schemes for their education.

When i look back 15 years, always amazed by opportunities brought by economic reforms & liberalization.