YSR govt's worst step: Fee reimbursement, free education
YSR Govt-'s Worst Step: Fee Reimbursement, Free Education. When Telangana region was part of United Andhra Pradesh there was hardly any private sector...
When Telangana region was part of United Andhra Pradesh there was hardly any private sector in educational institutions right from KG to PG and beyond. The medium of instruction was Urdu. Educational institutions at all levels at that time were few. We had only one university and a few colleges affiliated to it. Even schools were few and also the institutions dealing with plus two level education either attached to the schools or the colleges. The students too were few and so were the teachers.
Educational consciousness slowly but steadily picked up as the population grew and employment prospects improved with the establishment of industries in public as well as the private sectors.
As the state was not in a position to cope up with the increasing demand for education it allowed the private sector too to step into the field. But this was done directing them to charge only that much fee as was being levied by the government in the government institutions. That policy of the government was strictly implemented through strict inspection of the institutions. This obviated the profit motive and only social reformers, nationalists, and genuine philanthropists established a few institutions.
Government of the day rightly realised that privatisation of education was different from commercialisation of education. Hence it allowed privatisation but not commercialisation by strictly regulating the private institutions.
After the formation of Andhra Pradesh in order to encourage the capitalists of Andhra region the government allowed the private institutions to come up left and right with all kinds of relaxations in rules and tacitly allowing all kinds of violations of rules.
Education became like any other trade and commerce only after the formation of Andhra Pradesh thanks to the omissions and commissions of the Andhra rulers. Hyderabad became the centre of educational business and also the Andhra region specially the Vijayawada-Guntur belt.
Where many tutorial colleges were started to make money by several dubious methods including managing the examiners, question papers, finding out the names of the values, and influencing them to favour the candidates in whom they were interested. Education sector was worst hit from that period and deteriorated on all fronts. Even so called merit became a joke as everything and everyone was being managed either by money or by political influence or by both. Thanks to Andhra rulers, this situation still continues by and large. Many a scandals were unearthed but hardly a few culprits were either caught or punished because of conspiracy and connivance. Many big politicians and several top administrators were hand in glove in manipulations and maneuvers as they were interested in their children too.
Added to this in the name of English medium and modern education capital rich and glamour rich institutions were promoted and established mostly by them who had lot of money with them but without any understanding of what constitutes good education and what should go into it to produce not only good professionals, but also good citizens.
Educated increased in quantity and qualification but decreased in quality so much so the UNESCO itself in one of its reports had said that hardly ten percent of the higher educated in India are employable in higher jobs.
This broadly has been the educational scenario before the formation of the new Telangana state.
The worst that the Rajasekhara Reddy government did was making education free for all from KG to PG stating that the state would reimburse the fee. Now neither the students pay the fee, nor the government reimburses the fee on time to enable the institutions to pay the staff salaries or to meet their day to day expenditure. Most of the institutions suffered acutely and adversely for want of working capital leave alone developmental capital and most of them have been constrained to close as neither the students would pay the fees nor would they care to attend classes. Rampant indiscipline became the order of the day.
The state government is not at all in a position to reimburse the fee and it is in a strange predicament and a quandary over what to do.
The best solution according to me is to arrange education loans to only the poor and the deserving by underwriting their loans as they can’t give the guarantees needed by the banks.
The policy of fee reimbursal has been adopted without any consultation with the central government even though higher education is a concurrent subject, and even though it is in conflict with the central government’s policy itself according to which higher education is of less priority and school education is of top priority.
So far as it is known no other state in India has adopted the policy of fee reimbursement for higher education. Except the arrogance of the former Chief Minister Rajasekhar Reddy and the ill advice of the evil minded, there doesn’t seem to be any other reason or rationale in adopting that policy when the state government is not able to meet the needs of even the school sector.
How can a policy of fee reimbursal be defended when it intends to cover not only the poor but also each and every one who claims to be poor and why should it do it at all one fails to understand.
We have been helping the poor anyway through scholarships and bank loans and many other measures. We could have strengthened and streamlined the already existing schemes to be more efficient and effective and to state it again, the government could have come forward to underwrite educational loans of the poor and the deserving students where they had some difficulty in securing the loans. There were several other alternatives to help the poor and the meritorious students.
It is not too late to adopt some of them instead of continuing the fee reimbursement scheme which has virtually ruined higher education in Telangana. As the government goes its own way in reimbursement and the institutions won’t be in a position to pay the salaries of staff on time making it uneasy to work and stay on. Some of the colleges are not able to pay the rents, and some others are not able to meet their day to day expenditure. There is a virtual standstill in many institutions leading to all kinds of undesirable deviations making the owners to take recourse to unhealthy practises or closures.
The best way according to me to reiterate is to only arrange loans to all the poor and deserving students by underwriting their loans to be paid back by them in a phased manner as and when they settle down in life. Even monitoring the studies of them whose loans are underwritten can be entrusted to the banks themselves.
Even if in the subsequent recovery of loans there is some deficit, deficiency or shortfall the government would still get lot of relief as many students would still be paying the fee if the monitoring system is strengthened right from the date of granting the loan. In any case, it would certainly be far better than the fee reimbursal scheme with which the government is now getting exasperated and suffocated and is in a strange predicament of not being able to disburse or dispense with the scheme.
The students and the parents can be convinced if the underwriting of loans is undertaken forthwith wherever the students need them.
This only requires some understanding with the existing bankers or the most floating socialised banks for the purpose which exist in some countries. Even in our country there are specialised banks of certain purposes mainly for the benefit of the farmers and offering loans is very common in many fields. Since the bankers ask for some guarantees and securities which poor students can’t furnish, if the same guarantees are given by the government students would be satisfied and also the parents. Society and social activists would also be satisfied as the poor but meritorious and deserving students interests would be safeguarded. Details of the scheme can be worked out by immediately appointing a committee for the purpose.
By Dr. Kondal Rao Velchala. The author is Former Director, Telugu Academy Hyderabad.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of our organization.