Published: 13th June 2020
Are private schools now our whipping targets? Let's find out!
While compulsory admission under the Right to Education Act deprives private schools of intake of paying students, the present demand noted above seems overbearing
Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds
- William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatic poet, in Othello
Private schools, many with ‘International’ prefixed to their names, have been the envy of government officials who were supposed to regulate or oversee their functioning. Owners and management of such schools had scant respect for the educational hierarchy because they could directly deal with ‘higher-ups’ and get their work done to the chagrin of the officials. They were jealous of this hybrid school sector flaunting its power and influence. Now it is pay-back time for such frustrated, overlooked officials. But first, the facts.
The private schools have their own corporate-style model of collecting fees and budgeting. It may be noted that parents want their kids to study in elite schools. But when it comes to payment, some take the hindmost. So, in the context of uncertainty about reopening schools, some parents have been reluctant to respond to calls to pay up for the upcoming start of school terms and have complained to the officials who had gathered the courage to issue circulars prohibiting such collection of fees. Now, on June 2, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said that schools have been directed not to collect fees till further orders but some schools are dependent on fees to pay salaries to teachers. Hence, such schools have been told to accept fees from only well-to-do parents and this amount should be used only for payment of salaries. Help desks have been opened at Block Education Offices and parents can approach these officials if any school brings pressure asking them to pay fees, he added.
Before going further, who is to check and audit the accounts of the schools to determine their ability to pay the salaries of teachers? Also, how and who will identify and certify ‘well-to-do parents’? If one wants particular music, one has to pay the piper what he wants and when he wants. Corporate-style schools and individual fancies seem to go ill-together.
In the second instance, the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education has submitted before Delhi High Court that it is the obligation of the private unaided schools to provide laptops to economically weaker or disadvantaged students admitted in their schools to avail online study. The litigation on this is pending judgment in Delhi High Court. It is like the camel asking for just its nose to be allowed into the tent and then making itself comfortable with its whole body inside it. While compulsory admission under the Right to Education Act deprives private schools of intake of paying students, the present demand noted above seems overbearing.