Srinagar: Give us half of the state’s education budget and we will provide free quality education to every student in the Valley, an organisation representing private schools said on Sunday in reaction to education minister Naeem Akhtar’s remarks that private schools were “fleecing parents”.
“The use of word loot by an education minister is highly unfortunate. For them hoarding and selling of low quality item by shopkeepers is an aberration but providing quality education against some fee is loot,” said GN Var, chairman Private Schools United Front (PSUF), while demanding an apology from Akhtar.
“Maybe for them the work done by government schools is some kind of charity. Before making such remarks they forget that their own sons and daughter study in these (private) schools,” he said.
The front said the government is trying hard “to portray itself as the savior of the people” with such “pleasing slogans” but if it is really sincere then its work should reflect the same on ground.
“Billions of rupees are spent on government schools and what we get is appointment scandals, transfer industry, low work culture and grooming of the children with lowest quality of education,” said Var.
“Let us propose one thing. We will provide free and quality education to each and every student in Kashmir provided they spend just half of their per-student budget on us.”
The front said that it will be a “win-win situation” for everybody.
“Your money and our quality of service will bring an education revolution in the state,” said Var, adding, “but the question is are they ready.”
Var said the government’s understanding of private schools is limited to a few missionary and non-local school chains.
“And it is only their service or existence, which matters to them. The unfortunate part is that the government will not name them even if they come to know about the high cost of education in these schools,” he said.
“Private schools are much more than that. We have private schools that provide education for a meager fee of just Rs 50 per month. There are many schools run by darsgahs. Does education minister term all of them as looters?” he asked.
The front also criticized the education minister for charging Rs 1000 from higher secondary students as their contribution towards reconstructing damaged education infrastructure.
“If the same had been sought by private schools they would jumped to call us big looters but it is normal if they do it,” said Var.
“They can’t get aid from the Centre so the best option for them is force poor Kashmiris to cough up the money.”
Var asked education minister to apologise to the management and teachers in thousands of schools “who have been keeping the candle of education burning in Kashmir”.
“There are schools outside the state who demand donation of Rs 10 lakh and even many students from the state study there. The education ministers in those states don’t call them looters.”
The front asked the government to concentrate on improving education sector rather than making such statements.