SHAH KHALID

Scrutinizing private schools for public good!

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It is a fact that the private schools are nowadays acting like mafias, only grabbing the hard earned money from people in the name of quality education by dotting the hoardings of their schools on intersections and inner lanes.  All leading national and regional dailies are abuzz with the advertisements for marketing tactics, to increase the gross enrolment ratio, by using press as a tool for portraying their image as a social work to grab people’s attention. The private schools have blurred the image of education system due to their nefarious plans only for upgrading their business plots. By these wrong tactics these schools have become corporate sectors, business giants and much more by generating perplex in the minds of student community at different levels.

The financial inclusions of private schools is rising sharply, as most of the trustees and owners have established the campuses and other business outlets.  Initially the status was that, they have started with small academic ratio, but now they are inaugurating more campuses and other business outlets. People enroll their children in a private school only for the betterment of education and other curriculum activities from primary to higher secondary level. But instead of that, these schools are doing something which is a contrast to their tall claims by only raising their business structures and increasing the cost in the name of for school uniform to class dairy’s, all is printed and branded by school logo’s, sold at exorbitant rates.

Nowadays a large number of student community is in extreme stress, as they belong to middle class families, who can’t literally buy anything on such exorbitant rates. By conducting such activities which are unrelated to their academics are the new tactics to impose more and more financial burden on the parents.

Private school establishments can’t function in a vacuum. They are responsible to people like other institutes in a democracy. The formation of Private Educational Institutes follows a due process of law, as these private Schools come into existence through the existing rules and guidelines set forth by the state, which in itself makes them accountable to public as well as to the Government. If we want an inclusive society, school administration has to follow the law in letter and spirit. Various private and missionary schools running in the Kashmir Division, despite being under the category aided schools and established on Government land provided to them on lease, are violating the norms as well as indulging in contempt of Hon’ble Apex court’s landmark judgment under “Right to Education”, that talks about social integrations and inclusiveness by reserving 25 percent admission Quota for the under privileged students.

Ironically these schools charge hefty sum of money from students and the condition of 25 percent Below Poverty line (BPL) Quota is hardly met. When these schools are asked to release the information about the said quota, they vehemently refute to reveal any information. This clearly shows that there is some unholy nexus, as accountability is the major factor in the debate. Recognized by Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education, Missionary Schools are required by the Directorate of School Education to fulfil certain conditions before they are allowed to come into existence.  There is a well established process with factual matrix and statutory provisions and the Directorate of school Education possesses sufficient powers to initiate punitive action against these private schools, in case the school administration fails to furnish the information. Here the question arises, why these private and Missionary Schools don’t reveal any information on issues which are concerning public at large? The Missionary schools running in District Srinagar, jointly occupy around 215 Kanals of land at prime location owned by the state.

It’s well in the ambit of state Government and directorate of school education to see to it that these schools make their fee structure, rent details, admission enrolment under BPL categories and open merit list public. The denial of such information by private schools is also a violation of an SRO guideline under sec 9(a) of SRO-123. Ideally, quality education should be made available to all sections of society, but a poor man’s son or daughter cannot enroll in a private school for the exuberant fee that is charged. Most of these schools claim to be working as welfare trusts, but how many BPL category students are given admission?

(Shah Khalid is a Srinagar based freelance Journalist & a member of J&K RTI Foundation)

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