Privatise govt schools: They are a monumental waste


Privatise Govt Schools: They Are A Monumental Waste. Naga Padma, 48, is the principal of a government school, but her children study in corporate...

Naga Padma, 48, is the principal of a government school, but her children study in corporate schools. Pramod Kumar is a teacher in a government school in Nalgonda, but his family stays in the city and his children go to a convent school in Abids.

What is the logic behind a government school when the principals and teachers themselves do not trust their standards? The logic and existence of a government school become absurd when none of the expectations and standards are met. The idea of a government school fails when those who run the school proclaim their inefficiency by sending their own children to corporate and convent schools.

The primary, secondary and higher education in our government schools is in a despicable condition. Huge amounts are being spent on government schools through various schemes and in the name of infrastructure, then why is their condition so muddled?

Reports from an NGO suggest that approximately 99.68 per cent of children reported one or more types of punishment. A survey released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights during 2012 found that only nine out of 6,632 students denied that they received any kind of punishment in schools. As many as 81.2 per cent children were subject to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning. Out of the total, 75 per cent reported that they had been hit with a cane and 69 per cent said they were slapped.

In what puts a big question mark over the government's preparedness to implement the Right to Education Act in letter and spirit, the annual survey not only points to a consistent decline in basic reading and math ability of children, but also highlights an intriguing trend of the increasing number of parents preferring to enroll their children in private schools over government ones, even in villages.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) gathers the compelling and disturbing evidence of awful learning outcomes in majority of schools across India. More than half the children in class five cannot read a class two textbook, and three-quarters of children in class three cannot read a class one textbook.

Scholastic outcomes are poorer in government schools compared to private ones. But as Chavan admits, “Private school education is not great, but the socio-economic educational background of children’s families, parental aspirations and additional support for learning contribute majorly to their better performance.”

The Right to Education Act (RTE) initially eliminated all forms of student evaluation, and laid down — for good reasons — that children would not be held back for poor performance. But this well-intentional provision may have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, because it further reduced the accountability of the system for scholastic performance. Fortunately, this is now remedied because continuous and comprehensive evaluation is now a part of the law.

What RTE promises is a publicly funded school in the neighbourhood of every child in the country. But as the ASER survey reminds us, the biggest challenge to the public education system is not only to expand the reach of government schools, but to improve their quality.

Five years after the ambitious Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, came into being, 95.2 per cent of schools are not yet compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators, a civil society survey nationwide shows.

A shocking 93 per cent of teachers failed in the National Teacher Eligibility Test, conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education in 2010-11. In 2009-10, the failure was percentage was 91.

Only 4.8 per cent of government schools have all nine facilities stipulated under the Act; eight of the nine facilities are present in 11.41 per cent schools; approximately one-third of the schools have up to seven facilities and about 30 per cent schools do not have even five facilities.

A stock-taking of the first year of the implementation of the Right to Education Act, under the banner of the ‘RTE Forum', shows that one in 10 schools lacks drinking water facilities, 40 per cent schools lack a functional common toilet, and an equal number do not have separate toilets for girls.

As high as 60 per cent of the schools are not electrified and 50 per cent lack even a ramp for differently-abled students. Only one in every five schools has a computer.Special schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, have been floated in the interest of the poor students, but the schemes have failed to improve the quality of education.

The problem lies in the mixed structure of the system. Many schools which are promoted by Christian missionaries and political bodies have thrived and are growing bigger in numbers. The government has not helped them but these schools have grown in name and fame. For some, profit making is their business, but they are delivering and that makes sense.

Government schools can improve if the school teachers, DEOs, the state education secretary, the education minister are made accountable for their salaries and roles.

Let the education system be dismantled and government schools privatised. Let the government own the building and hand over the infrastructure to a church, an Aurobindo Society or a Gurukul trust. Such organisations can be monumental in giving shoddy government schools a facelift and provide quality education for the students.

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