Private Education: A boom or bane in India

All these high charges have not really helped education at school level because even after school charging these exorbitant fees, parents still seek paid supplement for their children called tuition like never before.

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-Sneh Sampada

May in India has arrived. And its making people sweat. It marks the commencement of summers. The other thing that is making people sweat in April is the payment of fees for their children at the start of the new session.

India is a nation with largest young population with 50% of its population under 25 years and education, for several, is the most prolific business and businesses are defined as pursuits to earn profit .Though the first regulation for opening an educational institution in India is that it is supposed to be a non – profit making organization not to be run by any individual but a society, a trust or to be run by a company under companies act. But like any and any other regulation it has crevices and loopholes that has made it breeding ground for rampant corruption. A corruption that alters the basic foundation of a child and the family to start with.

As per Constitution of India free and compulsory education should be  provided as a fundamental right to children between the age of  6 to 14 yrs. Free education provided by government school is marred by abysmal quality of education with minimum 30 percent teacher absentism. This makes private schools an apparent preception of quality education  and thus desirable to the eyes of parents irrespective of their socioeconomic status. Therefore 25% of private schools have 40% of student enrolment  in them. A study says that 65% of slum dwellers in Hyderabad send their children to private school This apathy and lack of will of the political establishment has made the private schools management have the last laugh as most of these schools have nexus with politicians who are either a part of their board themselves or some of their family members playing proxy for them.

As education  is a state subject, after wide protest by parents, regulation have brought in place by most state Government. But these regulation are a mere eye wash. For example, Rajasthan Government has framed and approved  Rajasthan Schools(regulation of fee) act 2016.According to this act every school needs to have a Parent teacher association with a say in fee hike. In this academic year Jaipur schools have hiked their  fees anything between 15 to 40%. The admission form to schools cost anything between RS 500 to Rs 2000.The first sign of absurdity. Admission fee ranges from 10,000 to 20,000. At start of the academic  parents has to shell out something 15 to 40 thousand RS depending on the school, excluding books and uniform. Because a child where parents are  most sensitive  about  and wish to admit  them in best schools these schools are bringing in more and more absurd regulation to mint money. For example, it is on the website of a school that you have to pay the bus fee in advance for the whole year. A month defaulter’s name will be struck of the register and shall be readmitted by paying arrears and a readmission fee of Rs. 9000.

In January, a student named Mirza Salman Baig, in Hyderabad had committed suicide for being publicly insulted and harassed in his school for defaulting school fee. The class 9th student had hung himself with a stole. Parents had told the police that due to demonetization and ban of old currency they were unable to pay the school fees. The purpose of education is to enlighten a child, enhance his inherent capabilities and equip him or her to deal with their tomorrow stands all defeated.

The corruption in the commercial education and nexus of school management and corrupt politician became more evident  on 27th April when a peaceful march by protesting  parents ,against fee hike by top 40 schools in Gurgaon like DPS, Ryan International, Blue Bells school etc, were assaulted. More than 1000 parents were marching together and were charged with lathis and beaten up for refusing to turn back. The protestors were not deterred by harsh April sun, refused to budge till they could see divisional commissioner or principal secretary. A parent who had come from Faridabad to protest asked a justification for Rs. 4500 for mid – day meal of kg students. This despite of Punjab and Haryana high court ordering a fee and fund regulatory committee for private schools on November 2016. Similarily there  had been protest outside the reputed summer valley of Dehradun. The school hikes fees by 15 to 20 each year and also forces children to buy books stationary and uniform from particular shop. In defiance of the Government order that only NCERT books to be prescribed by school, these schools use books by private publishers, which are expensive and available in selective shops. Similar protest have staged in various parts of the country like Pune, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Chennai by the grieving parents. Protest by the parents has forced Government officials to pay heed to these issues.

All these high charges have not really helped education at school level because even after school charging these exorbitant fees, parents still seek paid supplement for their children called tuition like never before. A survey by NSSO in 2016 says that some 7.1 crore students take private tuitions or coaching. An estimated 11 to 12 percent of family income goes to these tuitions. Of this only 4 percent of the students said that they were taking coaching to prepare for some exam or job rest were taking private coaching to “augment basic education “ which means they were not satisfied with the schools. Parents these days make Students as young as six years old are going to coaching classes. With both parents working this trend is only on a rise.

Survey found that the students from Government schools were spending more upto 33 percent of their family income on these coaching. The flip side of the coin is spending on private education in unaided schools is 22 times the Government schools.

It is important to analyze why has the quality of education deteriorated. One of the very important reason for this is bad quality of teachers. A teacher is the person a child interacts with outside his/her family .Children are very impressionable and teachers who are supposed to nurture them are busy earning money and also because they also have children for whom they have to pay hefty fees. It is not that important to them that how much are they contributing to the development of the children they are teaching but how much they are earning is important. As teaching is not one of the most well paid jobs many of them take tuitions to make up for the shortfall. In a country like ours where we call  teaching a noble profession but do not think of our children to take it up because it is not a well paying job. How many children do you see saying that they want to be teachers when they grow up and if some of them are willing they are not encouraged. In business circles, it is often said those who are not able to do anything else teach. Prime motivation behind most teachers taking up this job especially women is flexible working hours and not the devolution for the profession.

It is primarily the parents who are responsible for the present day fiasco .Their craving desire for wealth fetching job for their children irrespective of the child’s IQ. Educational institutes stretch it further by attracting parents by infrastructure and neglecting faculty and quality of education in the process.

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