Under Modi's government, we will never allow the private schools to shut down'- Vijay Goel
New Delhi: National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), along with Centre for Civil Society (CCS) organised its third annual School Leaders Summit (SLS) at India International Centre, New Delhi on September 27, 2014. The summit’s central theme this year was ‘Budget Private Schools: Challenges and Opportunities’.
NISA is an alliance of school owners from over 20 states representing 36,400 low budget private schools in the country. The summit brought together member association leaders and school owners from 6 states along with policy makers, educationists, researchers, investors and stakeholders. These stakeholders, representatives of a diverse cross-section of society, discussed the role of BPS in the education space, the existing challenges in the affordable education sector; explore opportunities and innovative practices to improve quality of schooling and student performance.
Parth J Shah from CCS said that the situation is alarming because 3,494,520 children are currently out of school, due to the fact that 19,414 private schools across 17 states have been closed or issued notice for closure for not fulfilling the input-centric norms laid down by RTE (such as infrastructure and teacher salaries). These schools are primarily private, low-fee schools that cater to the poorer sections of society. Various researches have shown that these schools often deliver better learning outcomes than government schools, and do so at a per-child cost that is much lower than what the government spends in public schools. RC Jain, President, NISA, welcomed the schools association members and school owners from across the country and set the tone for the summit.
Honorable Member of Parliament, BJP, Vijay Goel delivered the keynote address at the summit. He said that no government can do everything on its own and it needs to depend on private sector to provide services, so is the case with education. He further said that parents refrain from admitting their children to ‘public’ schools because they doubt the quality being delivered there. He said that “I don’t believe that anything should be completely free, education is no exception. Private schools are an important value addition and under Modi’s government, we will never allow the private schools to shut down.” He said that NISA should assume a greater role and work on a project whereby schools possessing a stamp from NISA can be guaranteed to have fulfilled certain norms, which are both feasible and contribute to learning outcomes.
Archana Mehandale, a prominent researcher on Child Rights, speaking on regulatory Challenges for Budget private Schools said that schools are grappling with a body of regulations that is very large, also therefore, inaccessible. The system is functioning in a framework of confusion. Regulations are complex, incoherent and sometimes inconsistent.
Dilip Thakore, Editor, Education World magazine, said that media has not kept school education as a priority and has not represented budget private schools adequately, and not in a positive light. It is time we start acknowledge their role in increasing access to education. Gurcharan Das said that prejudices against private schools exist all over the world and he agreed that this is despite the fact that economic growth is largely due to people who come out of private schools.
Overall the summit was successful in highlighting where the challenges lie in advocating the case for budget private schools from the perspectives of the judiciary, the media and the government. Over 150 participants attended the summit representing education, development, corporate sectors and opinion makers.
Other speakers at the summit included Gaurav Gogoi, Member of Parliament from Kaliabor, Assam, Dr Udit Raj, Member of Parliament, Amit Kaushik, Vikramjeet Banerjee, Gurcharan Das, Seetha, Mohammed Anwar and Dr Shekhar Shah (Director General, NCAER).