Government schools to take private route: Niti Aayog

It wants to hand over student-challenged schools to private entities under PPP mode with an autonomous body.
In 2014-15, there were 3,70,000 government schools with less than 50 students each.
In 2014-15, there were 3,70,000 government schools with less than 50 students each.

NEW DELH : If India’s top planning body NITI Aayog has its way, government school education in states and the Union Territories could soon go the private way within three years. It has called for radical reforms such as handing over the student-challenged schools to private entities under the PPP (public-private partnership) mode and hiving off the education department into a separate autonomous directorate under professional management.

The “hollowing of an alarmingly large number of government schools between 2010-14 accounting for a dip in total enrolment by 1.13 crores” has triggered this policy shift. As enrolment in private schools grew by 1.85 crore during 2014-15, the NITI Aayog has concluded, “High rate of teacher absenteeism, limited time spent on teaching when the teacher is in class and generally poor quality of education are among important reasons for this emptying out (of students).

Outcomes (educational) are worse in government schools than those privately run, and those who can leave are voting with their feet,” says a three-year action plan report, a copy of which is with The Sunday Standard.

Making an appraisal of schools run by various state government agencies across the country, the NITI Aayog made a detailed presentation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March illustrating that there were one lakh schools with just 20 or less students in India.

“The average number of students per school was 12.7 on which the average annual expenditure per child came at Rs 80,000. The total (annual) salary bill of teachers for these schools stood at Rs 9,440 crore in 2014-15,” the think tank noted.

The number of teachers for these schools is roughly one lakh. Furthermore, there were 3,70,000 schools (accounting for 36 per cent of all government-run schools in the country) with less than 50 students each during 2014-15. “The average student per school stood at 29 with the expenditure per child coming at Rs 40,800, besides the total (annual) teacher salary bill coming at `41,630 crore during 2014-15,” added the think tank.

Making a strong case for private players, the NITI Aayog said, “A working group at the Centre should be set up with participation of the states for bolder experiments, which may include education vouchers and local government led purchasing of education services.

The PPP model could also be explored where the private sector adopts government schools while being publicly funded on per child basis. This may provide solution for problems of schools that have hollowed and are incurring massive expenditures per pupil currently.”

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The New Indian Express