The licensing and regulatory restrictions in the education sector are discouraging well-intentioned ‘edu-preneurs’ from opening more schools. Also, a great number of ‘budget schools’ that are mushrooming in lower-class neighbourhoods are forced to stay outside the purview of the formal education sector due to lack of Government-prescribed ‘recognition’. With a view of encouraging a greater number of schools to cater for all sections of society and to bring good quality budget schools within the fold of education, we propose a new system of ‘graded recognition’. Such a system would recognize all schools and place emphasis on input as well as outputs (outcomes) in provision of education.
Graded Recognition System
An increasing number of schools being run from lower class neighbourhoods are educating the most disadvantaged students in urban areas. Charging a nominal fee, these ‘Budget Private Schools’ cater extensively to children from economically weaker backgrounds. The growing popularity, amongst poor parents, of such schools in slums and weaker sections of the society has confirmed their acceptability and credibility. Moreover, State Governments across India have been working with many such schools, typically run by Non-Governmental Organisations and Not-for-Profit Trusts, to reach out to the most vulnerable children. Provisions under Section 19 of the RTE bill threaten harsh penalties for schools that fail to gain recognition within three years. We submit that this is too severe a penalty when you take note of the invaluable, pro-poor and community-oriented service rendered by such schools. Instead, the government should explore avenues to work with such schools to ensure greater access to education for those who are less fortunate amongst us. In this vein, we urge the government to consider introducing a graded recognition system that will include such schools and establish realistic standards for all schools. This system would have three standards – Silver, Gold and Platinum, in ascending order or merit, thereby providing incentives for schools to acquire higher standards and/or maintain their current standards. At the same time, such grading would educate the parent on the facilities and performances of the schools.