New Delhi, Jun 14, 2012, DHNS
Several small-budget schools in Delhi and 11 other states alleged that the government is trying to create a vote bank by encouraging reservation within reservation for EWS and disadvantaged categories at the National Independent Schools Alliance conference held in Delhi on Thursday.
This conference organised by the Centre for Civil Society brought together representatives of over 5,000 low-fee and budget schools from across 12 states. NISA is the only platform that brings together low budget schools to work on areas which need improvement.
“The government has removed the previous provision of SC/ST quota of up to 23.5 per cent in government funded schools. Now, the Supreme Court has directed to reserve 25 per cent seats for all children, including SC/ST/OBC/EWS under the Right to Education.
Does it mean that 1.5 per cent will be allocated for OBC/EWS? So do we take one and a half children under the OBC category?” said Kulbushan Sharma, who heads the Haryana association of private schools.
Sharma has received over 10,000 signatures from budget schools demanding non-interference of the government in school’s management matters.
They are going to present the demands to UPA chief Sonia Gandhi, human resource department minister Kapil Sibal, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for immediate action.
Budget schools also alleged that they face threat of closure as they do not meet infrastructure norms under the RTE Act.
“The main issue here is that the government has happily said schools should get recognition and even expand classrooms and provide playground facilities or shut shops. If the government does not give us land to meet these requirements, how can we provide all this?” asked Dr D K Singh, chairman, Bihar private school association.
A bad public image was another issue raised by association representatives who had come from 12 states for the conference.
“Budget school owners are often misunderstood as fly-by-night operators with no concern for education but quick money. This makes it difficult for these schools to get recognition and survive in this lobby created by the government and giant schools,” said Parth J Shah, CCS.
Shah also gave an example of how in 1999, Kerala had 60 per cent penetration of private schools which has helped in attaining good literacy rates.
Concerns over quality education were also raised.
R C Jain, national co-ordinator of NISA pointed out with government’s drive to close down its own schools and not giving recognition to low budget schools is adversely affecting the education system.
“With five lakh people adding in Delhi every year, how does the government plan to fulfill the education requirements? And if they close down the budget schools where will children from lower strata of the society study?,” he said.
The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.