It does appear strange that there is opposition to the setting up of educational institutes or other such facilities in the State. After the opposition to the Indian Institute of Technology at Loliem, and the long hunt for land to set up the National Institute of Technology, there is now opposition to the educational hub at Davorlim, a gripe of the villagers that has rightly drawn strong censure from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Two weeks ago, the Davorlim-Dicarpale gram sabha, which was attended by nearly 400 people, rejected the government’s proposal to set up the educational hub in their village. One of the main reasons for the rejection was that the land from the village should be for the villagers and not to be given to Margao schools catering to the children of the rich. This is an argument that does not hold water, and as pointed out by the Chief Minister, schools in Margao don’t restrict themselves to admitting only students from the town, but take in children from all the neighbouring villages. About 60 percent of the students studying in the town schools would be from the villages surrounding the town, and from even further away. Taking it further, Margao schools would also probably have a number of students from Davorlim studying in them, a fact that places a large question mark on the opposition to the education hub, given the reason proffered for opposing it.
To give the issue some perspective, the education hub that is planned in Davorlim would be on the lines of the one at Cujira, in North Goa. This will not only decongest Margao, but also provide students a wider range of facilities, that they are currently being denied mainly due to lack of space. Many schools in the town do not have a sports ground or even a proper assembly hall or space for cultural activities. An educational hub, with all these facilities would vastly improve the all round development of the little scholars, and the Cujira experience will back this.
The question therefore now is how to resolve this issue of opposition to the education hub in particular, and educational institutes in general.
Another of the arguments put forth at the gram sabha by those against it, was that there would be no employment opportunities created by the hub as the schools would shift to the new location with their existing staff and students. Educational hubs and institutes should never be confused with industries that provide employment. They provide education, taking in a new batch of students every year and preparing the children and youth for higher studies where they would be further prepared to take up employment elsewhere.
The education cannot be allowed to be stunted in its growth by opposition to setting up of institutions or educational hubs. As pointed out by the Chief Minister, if the opposition continues there will come a point in time when the government would have to withdraw the exemptions its gives schools to increase the intake of students. Every year the exemption is being given so that more children can benefit from the schools. If this exemption is stopped, the losers would be the people – the children in particular – and not the schools that are already filled to capacity.
Opposition to projects needs to be based on specific issues, and not generalised. Employment generation cannot be a critiria for every project. Let there be constructive debate on the educational hub at which the misgivings that the villagers have can be sorted out. In the years to come the hub could well be a prestigious project for Davorlim, something that the villagers could be proud of.