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Privatization and Right to Education - Can they go hand in hand?
The Supreme Court recently upheld the 25% quota to the economically backward section of children. The move has been welcome by many people but a closer look at the move brings out many issues which need to be addressed before implementation of the scheme.Every step taken by the Government should be made only after consultation with the concerned people. The actual needs of such children need to be analyzed to avoid disparities in future.
Right to Education has been an unspoken right available to all citizens but with the introduction of the Act, the Government has specifically added a new fundamental right to all citizens of the country. The 25% quota in private schools being made available to the poor upheld by the Supreme Court has been welcome by all but the implementation of this initiative by the Government has both pros and cons.
The Government has planted seeds for raising talented work force in India and the major merits of the scheme are as follows:
Access to latest educational techniques
With the advent of smart schools and almost all private schools deploying the latest educational techniques which are in vogue across the world, this scheme will enable even the economically backward children to have access to the latest techniques. This exposure will help the students to be at par with the tough and competitive world during their higher education. Even the infrastructure facilities in the private schools such as quality of teachers, seating arrangements, lighting and sanitation facilities are much better than the Government schools which will be beneficial for these children.
Better opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities
India has been forging ahead in the field of sports and the private schools have better sports facilities as compared to the Government schools. Availability of such facilities and access to various tournaments at all levels can tone up the skills of talented children in the BPL families. Apart from this, other extra-curricular activities like debates, seminars and socially productive activities are widely held in the private schools which provide an opportunity to such children to groom their overall talents and skills. This will benefit the country in the long run. And provide the country with many more Kalpana Chawlas and Olympic winners.
The noble intention of the Government is definitely commendable but the success of this noble intention depends on how the Government tackles the core issues mentioned below:
Issues pertaining to the poor children
Feeling of disparity among the children
The poor children would have a feeling of being left out in a peer group. The lifestyle of the upper middle class and rich children may be so different from their way of living that they would themselves try to avoid them. Phsychologists state that such an environment may even create feeling of depression in children during the long run. Being unable to cope with the different atmosphere,might even result in increasing the existing number of suicide cases among the students.
Adoption of wrong means
The poor children would be attracted by the lifestyle of other children. In their attempts to live such a lifestyle, they might even pester their parents for the luxuries that the rich children in their school enjoy. If their parents fail to provide such luxuries, these children might even resort to unscrupulous activites like theft etc to satisfy their cravings.
Intention of the poor in sending their children to school
The poor people actually send their children to school to avail the freebies that the Government schools provide for their children. A set of uniforms, books, notebooks, mid-day meals, milk and cycles to ply to school.... these fringe benefits that save on their food and clothing costs are the only reason to send their children to school. The ever increasing population in such families force the parents to take such decisions. The lure of these freebies is much higher for these parents than the benefit that their children would gain in private schools.
Issues pertaining to the private schools
The Right to Education Act states that the private schools providing free education to the poor and economically backward sections would be reimbursed an amount equal to per-child expense incurred by the government or actual fees charged whichever is less.
Non receipt of fees for already admitted students
One point in this issue is that the schools are not very sure whether they would receive the fees amount or not. Many schools in urban areas which have already given admission to such schools claim that they have not yet received their dues from the Government.
Hit in budget planned by the school and consequent implications
Another point is that the budget of the schools in these cases will be affected. Many schools in urban and metro cities will have fees higher than that charged by the Government schools. That means if 25% of the seats are occupied by the poor students, then the schools will try to shift the burden of differential fees to the parents of other students who do not belong to this class.
Recently this issue was raised and the Government did not seem to be convinced about this probability of fee hike to other students.The Government in turn wants the schools to approach big corporates who have to keep aside 2% of the total turnover for social expenditure instead of increasing fees for other students.
This tug of war between the Government and schools continue and in this scenario it is not possible for the students of the poor children to receive the same treatment at par with other students.
Total privatisation or total Government set up cannot help in implementation of this Act. The Government in turn can strengthen the network of Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country and take the assistance of private and talented entrepreneurs to improve the standards at these schools. With all such issues hampering the success of the scheme,the idea of privatization and Right to Education Act going hand in hand seems to be a distant dream as of now in India.
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Privatization and Right to Education
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