Time for States to Promote Govt Schools
By The New Indian Express | Published: 08th February 2016 06:00 AM |
The Indian middle class, which benefited from public health, education and employment in the pre-1991 era, was quick to shift its allegiance to the private sector which promised quality for a price. The initial attraction is beginning to wear off as private education and health have become prohibitively expensive, but they are not ready to return to public institutions. The recent report on the fee details put out by the Tamil Nadu Private Schools Fee Determination Committee for the next two academic years has set the alarm bells ringing.
The dramatic and damning revelation that kindergarten education costs more than engineering education should be a cause of concern for the civil society, policy-makers and government regulatory agencies. The situation is no different in rural areas. There have been reports that even the poor are thronging the private English-medium convent schools seeking admissions for their children. In the specific Tamil Nadu instance, the State Government, which is committed to public welfare, could revisit the regulatory framework and review the functioning of the committee set up under the TN Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2009. While the school managements have some valid financial reasons, the truth is they are taking undue advantage of parents’ vulnerability.
The proliferation of private schools can pose social problems in the long run. Many ‘elite’ private schools lack socio-cultural diversity. Many even segregate children on the basis of so-called ‘academic performance’. Children come out of these schools with warped thinking. On the other hand, a government school with socio-economic and cultural diversity helps in enhancing the social and emotional intelligence of all students. Therefore, State governments across the country should reform the education system so that it can attract children from the middle and upper middle class families too. And, with increased resource allocations and evaluation by government agencies and parents’ associations, government schools can contribute substantially in promoting social unity, tolerance and cohesion.