Attractive buildings, huge playgrounds, state-of-the-art laboratories and clean toilets are some of the facilities parents look for in schools. The state government now seems to have woken up and has chalked out plans to meet these expectations.
In what is being projected as an alternative to government schools, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) proposes to start ‘Karnataka Public Schools’ in gram panchayats that will have everything that average government schools lack.
“People aspire to send their children to a school with an attractive building, proper playgrounds, clean toilets, libraries, cultural activities and sports. There is a growing concern that the absence of these aspects in smaller government schools is affecting the quality of education. So, instead of small-scale government schools, we propose to start big schools at gram panchayat levels, called Karnataka Public Schools, as an experiment,” said A Devaprakash, director, primary education, in a circular.
Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPIs) have been asked to select one gram panchayat in their respective districts, where there are a few or no schools, and submit a proposal after incorporating suggestions from the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) and block education officers. The DDPIs are expected to submit these proposals by June 21.
“The idea here is to run one good school than having 10 bad ones,” said V P Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law (CCL), National Law School of India University. The DPI experiment is based on a CCL concept note that was pitched way back in 2003, albeit with some deviations, he said.
“Our idea was to retain existing schools with pre-primary and Classes 1-4. We proposed well-equipped gram panchayat schools to have Classes 5-12, so that the students will not have to go anywhere else. But these schools are definitely not an alternative to government schools as it is projected. This shouldn’t lead to closure of government schools,” Aradhya said, but said these schools could help counter privatisation of education.
The DDPIs are expected to identify GPs that have geographical requisites for such schools, including population, details of existing schools, connectivity and others.