Offroading Education: Doing away with minimum-education criterion for drivers is a bad idea
The Financial Express
Last week, the ministry of road transport and highways decided to do away with the requirement of a minimum educational qualification for driving a commercial vehicle. An amendment Bill aims at removing Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, which states that a driver needs to be educated up till class 8th for driving a transport vehicle. The reason given by the ministry for this amendment is that many people from backward regions of India depend on low-income livelihoods, such as driving—but the rule on the minimum educational level becomes a hurdle since many don’t meet it. In such a scenario, the ministry felt that the mandatory rule for being able to drive transport vehicles should not depend on one’s education level, but on the skill-set associated with driving. Also, the ministry feels that this decision will help tackle the shortage of 22 lakh drivers in the transport sector. It proposes to substitute the education criterion with strict skill testing of drivers. While that may seem alright in the short-term, doing away with basic education as a requirement for any job, especially when the government is providing elementary education for free, is a bad step in the long run.
Future jobs, including driving, will need basic education for skill deployment. With the digitisation of the transport sector unfolding at its current pace—from GPS-based navigation to text/picture-based interface with transport apps—acquiring the necessary skills will require basic education. In any case, automated vehicles may even make drivers redundant—basic education can prove a redeemer if it opens up opportunities for a second career. India may plunge further in the Human Development Index if it disincentivises the pursuit of education. Educational attainment of children shows a high correlation with that of parents—the move may lead to low education attainment for generations to come.