The Business Standard editorial Educating India may hold good lessons for understanding the “what” and “how” of the much needed education reforms.
The article tells us that one, educational institutions are the single largest advertisers in the print media and two, households are spending more on education than before. The article then goes on to elaborate on the deplorable lack of quality in educational institutions. What is refreshing is the suggestion that “perhaps allow the corporatisation of educational institutes. Meanwhile, bodies that monitor standards, government and private, will have to get a lot more active than they are today, and that includes making available relevant data available to the public.”
Finally the opinion tide is turning towards understanding education as any other economic activity and not as a much-hallowed sector that can be kept distant from the laws of economics. When would our legal system understand this?
So what would an ideal education market look like?
Individuals/ corporates can open educational institutions without licence requirements. Observe that individuals cannot open schools as of now and corporates are not allowed for reasons of education being a non-profit sector. When would education companies in India get listed on the Nasdaq? Given our potential it is not too difficult.
The govt affects education in 2 ways. One, through deploying money and two, through enforcement of rules. The money deployed presently in running educational institutions can be routed to students who choose the best schools available. The govt will only frame rules where it provides money and not umbrella mandates like disallowing profit. Rules dictating the provision of land to educational institutions at subsidised rates can be done away with. The most disastrous licensing requirements for institutions arise from the control of land by govt bodies.
The institutions that “govt moneyed children” attend will be subject to scrutiny by both govt and non govt bodies. Today you cannot enter a govt school to inspect (without departmental permission) inspite of being a tax-payer!
Release teacher certification and training from the clutches of government stranglehold. Allow govt institutions to take privately trained/ certified teachers.
Boards and universities are territorial monopolies of education in India. A college in UP cannot affilite to Delhi University. Why? Why cannot there be private boards and universities? The govt’s role would be to provide information on the basis of grading. Period.
For rural provision of education, the govt can build roads. Even if they build at random they would benefit the poor! Now put educational vouchers in the hands of students and see how govt schools innovate and private schooling sector comes up in these rural areas.
Throw the vernacular medium requirements of schools to the winds. Take a sample of government teachers, education department babus and legislators in any one state and ask one simple question: which school does your child go to – govt/ pvt aided/ pvt unaided? My educated guess is that it will be pvt unaided for the simple reason of english language. Legislating a denial of english medium education to children is criminal in these times!
Much better declare education a free enterprise sector in India and watch India become THE education hub this side of the Pacific Ocean!