Saturday 23 February 2013

Education system in India, going commercial or going worse

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Until a few years ago there were only public schools and private schools.  The private schools were either aided or unaided.  The aided schools received grants from the Government for operations, therefore they were relatively cheap.  The unaided schools were only for the uber rich in India.  This was a simple classification of schools.  However after the reforms in 1991, this is one sector which has caught the fancy of every political leader and business man.  They opened a school in their forefathers name.  Nothing wrong with that but due to their entry, but this has led to crass commercialization in the education sector.

When I was growing up, I went to a aided private school and my monthly fees were Rs.5.00 for fifth standard, Rs.6.00 for sixth and so on.  There were two private schools in my area at that time, Activity and Champion High School, and their fees were princely Rs.800.00 to 1500.00.  Obviously all the Peddar Road, Altamount Road, Forjett Hill residents sent their wards to these schools.  Then there were Municipal schools.  These schools provided good quality education to the under privileged children.  

The fees were cheap and practical, the education was good and the maximum marks, parents would expect from their wards was distinction in SSC or HSC (75% marks).  Few Coaching classes had just started mushrooming at that time.  The average fees for these classes were around Rs.200 to 500.00 for full year.  That was within the acceptable levels of most middle class families in Mumbai.

But with the opening of the economy in 1991, the first casualty has been the education system.  The entry of the schools with foreign school affiliations and tie-ups caused the fees of the schools to rise.  Sensing opportunity in the sector a whole load of political leaders, business men made a queue to enter this sector.  The school names were suddenly upgraded to International Schools and the fees started touching the roof.  A few examples of the new breed of schools and colleges named after a political or a business man  Thakur International School, D.Y.Patil International School, Dhirubhai Ambani International School etc.

The normal fees for these schools range from Rs.35000.00 to 2.00 lakhs.  In some cases like ISB it is whopping Rs.25.00 lakhs.  And these are just the fees, the ancillaries like school dress, books, laptop, school bus fees may set you off by another Rs.5000.00 to 10000.00.

The buck doesn't stop there.  If you want your child to really compete in today's dog kill dog system, he/she has to get minimum 90% above marks, so tution classes in addition to above have become mandatory.  This will bump up your costs by another Rs.25000.00 to 50000.00.  The education system in India has just become the profit center for businesses.

How will a middle class family pay these costs.  Even with both husband and wife earning, these expenditure is unbearable.  But they don't have a choice, the public schools are faring even worse.  Inspite of all of these, the education imparted by these schools does not match international standards.  Despite having a 'International' in their names, the schools have failed to make a dent in the International rankings.  

Now with the Government enacting the Right to Education Act, I hope there is some hope for the parents.  I am sure the RTE will have some impact in years to come, but till then educating your child will burn a big hole in your pockets.  Please post your comments regarding our schooling system.

Vijay Prabhu.

Here is a link to all the International Schools of Mumbai.

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