RSP plan to outsource schools, college raises concern in Odisha

According to reliable sources, RSP is committed to providing free education to children of its employees.
The Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP)
The Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) Photo | Express

ROURKELA: The Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL, having previously closed all Odia medium schools, is now moving to outsource the management of its remaining two English medium schools and a junior college.

RSP recently invited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from private entities to manage the Ispat English Medium School (IEMS) at Sectors 20 and 22, as well as the Ispat Vidya Mandir (IVM) junior college at Sector 19. The deadline for submissions is July 6.

While the decision is part of RSP’s broader strategy to shift away from directly providing education services and professionalise the management of these institutions, it has been met with resistance from some stakeholders.

According to reliable sources, RSP is committed to providing free education to children of its employees. Since 2009, executives have received an education allowance as part of their fringe benefits, with non-executives beginning to receive this allowance in November 2021. This shift has allowed employees to choose their children’s schools more freely, reducing RSP’s obligation to operate its own schools.

One RSP employee reminisced about the high standards of IEMS Sector 20, noting that it once produced such impressive results that parents would distribute sweets upon their children’s admission. Despite no direct recruitment of teachers for nearly 15 years, IEMS Sector 20 achieved a 100 per cent pass rate in both ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) examinations in 2024.

IEMS Sector 20 primarily serves children of SAIL employees and central government or PSU employees, while IEMS Sector 22 has a mixed student strength, and IVM is mainly for SAIL employees’ children.

Prashant Behera, general secretary of the INTUC-affiliated Rourkela Shramik Sangh, criticised the outsourcing plan. He argued that RSP’s schools have historically provided quality education and accused RSP of gradually privatising its services, thus undermining its social commitment to employees and stakeholders. Behera expressed concerns that outsourcing would commercialise the education system without improving standards.

In contrast, RSP management defended the decision, emphasising that RSP’s primary focus is steel production. They argued that professional management of the schools through outsourcing would enhance educational standards.

However, management sources noted that most employees already prefer private English medium schools for their children and assured that the outsourced schools would still produce good results while under RSP’s oversight.

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