Privatise with caution - 6to16

Privatise with caution

Rajkumari Tankha
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The recent news of a KG student of a private school being locked in a room because the parents could not pay the fee in time comes as a shocker. But this also points to the state of private educational institutions in our country. The coercive methods they use to extract money and the ‘student welfare’ they have in mind.

But this is not a lone case. For one case that is reported in news, there are hundreds that go unnoticed, wherein parents are coerced to pay up, irrespective of whether they can afford the charges or not.

This brings us to the issue of privatization of education. Is it a boon or a bane for a country like us where lakhs of people live below the poverty line, have no access to education even though education remains their only means to get out of the rut they are rotting in?

Education is a fundamental right granted by the Indian Constitution and Article 41 of the Constitution allows the State to limit this within its economic capacity. But it still is the government’s primary duty to provide free and compulsory education right from KG to university level. The Constitution cannot and should not be used as an excuse anymore; it can be amended, if required.

Most private institutions charge heavy fee which only the rich can afford. Giving a free hand to private players will mean only wealthy people can go in for school and college education. What about the scores of low-middle class and low-income group children? Is the Government not responsible for their education as well?  Or is the government bothered only about the rich, those who can buy the certificates and degrees.

For most private institutions, be it school or college-level, education is a business just like any other. The only thing they have in mind is how to make money. Well-rounded development of students comes a poor second in the face of economic concerns of the management and its owners.

Though it is not practically possible to abolish all private institutions (and some of these are good too), what the government is duty-bound to do is to keep a strict vigil over the private schools, not just over their fee structure, the infrastructure but also over the quality of education that is provided in these. Along with doing this the government must also improve the standard of its own schools and also increase the number of government schools so that no child is left without school.

It is good to privatise education, but leaving it entirely in the hands of private players is certainly NOT. The state can’t abdicate its responsibility of providing free and compulsory education to everyone citing economic capacity as a reason!

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