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Education & Government’s shirking responsibility

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For the last few days, WhatsApp groups primarily of Gujarat Locals are flooded with News Paper clippings of Government of Gujarat’s proposed decision to fix the upper limits that a private school can charge as a fee.

Now Private Primary School Operators will be able to collect more than Rs. 16000 as fees

To top it up, my local Vadodara MLA, Mr. Yogesh Patel had floated a letter in the social media where he calls all sort of names for the Private School Operators. He went to extent of calling Private School Operators School Mafia. [pdf]

My problem isn’t that Mr. Patel is calling them names, but the fact that he isn’t offering any solutions. I do not deny the fact that school do fleece parents under various pretexts. I personally having handled operations of a chain school, am aware the extent of money making activities that a school can undertake over and above the ‘Fees’.

But my this article has originated from the fact, that government after government have done nothing to improve the quality of Government Schools but when it comes to appeasing the common man, all they have to do is demonize the school operators without even taking step towards improving, forget the quality, even the infrastructure of government schools.

Education department has set down guidelines to the extent of defining the area of classrooms to the water taps to student ratio you need to maintain. They have defined the area required to start a School. A typical CBSE school is required to have anywhere between 1 to 2 acre of land in its name or leased to it for at least 30 years depending on the location of the school. The teachers are required to be paid 6th Pay Commission pay scales, now 7th not to mention other benefits like ESIC, PF, etc. There is a long To-Do list for the school to even get permission. Did you know, for every additional classroom or section you increase in the school, there is a cost of Rs. 5,000- Rs. 10,000. This is the official cost. The under the table cost is different story altogether. And to top it up, there is a mandatory 25% reservation for RTE students, the refunds for which haven’t arrived in the last 5 years at the least.

Now as a Private School operator, where do I get all this money from? Let’s forget profit, with the kind of Fee slabs being recommended.

In the 1st place there are limits to the number of students that you can have in a classroom which is maximum 40. Now to teach these 40 students in the Primary Section (1st to 8th) alone, you need at least 10-14 teachers assuming the schools operate on a Mother Teacher concept from 1st to 3rd standard. This is just teachers, and then there are support staff, administrative staff, etc. Also this section of the school has the maximum load of RTE i.e. 25% seats are to be reserved to be taught without any fees coming.

In the above scenario, where does the school bring the money to fund the expenses? Forget making profits with the above mentioned fees, they will end up shutting down the schools due to lack of funds.

Simply put, I see 2 solutions: (My Opinion Purely)

  • Why can’t the government just incentivize these private schools by letting them charge any fees they want provided they run a parallel school for the under-privileged community by using the existing setup for which the government need not compensate? Because frankly, there are people willing to pay top bucks for schools offering good education.

PS: try and find out fees of schools like Ecole Mondiale School, Mumbai, Oberoi International School, Mumbai & Aga Khan International School Hyderabad just to name few.

  • Government takes the Education Sector seriously. Instead of populist decisions like Fee Ceilings, they decide to upgrade and offer the best quality Education & Infrastructure in Government Schools.

All the Governments since Independence have just done lip-service to the Education Sector. No one is serious about changing how the future generation of our country is being taught. RTE which was being claimed by the liberal buffoons as revolutionary idea is nothing but Government Shirking its responsibility and outsourcing or rather burdening the Non-Minority Private Schools with something that it should do itself.

Lastly, you can flog a dead horse only so much.

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