By Akeel Rashid
Why do we prefer to admit our children in private schools? Is it worthy or an inescapable extravagance? For many of us, the answer is both and it raise further questions. What makes this decision worthy? The answer(s) to this question are self-explanatory so I will write few of them here: the students in private schools are paid extra attention, given a competitive environment, personality development is done, communication skills enhanced and so on. Another question that remains to be answered is: how it becomes a matter of inescapable extravagance when we send our children to private schools? Well, the answer is simple: in the absence of any active regulatory authority, the charging of exorbitant fee(s) and funds from the students needs no introduction.
The issue of overcharging by the private schools is not new in Kashmir but the disclosure is newer. Reporting by the media on this matter becomes highly unlikely because the private schools spend huge money on the advertisements and no media organization would like to incur the loss of not getting those advertisements from these schools. There is no denying the fact that oftentimes, the children of bureaucrats and political elites join these private schools that are into money-making business and, this fact has led to the belief that it makes these private schools immune to public criticism and thereof any legal action.
The problem is there not because the private schools demand hefty amount for the admission, but because the parents are ready to pay the same. Given the fee structures in private schools, it is appropriate to say that education has no value but high price, it is no more an opportunity but a desire. Being rich or poor is a matter of inevitability in every society but the affordability of any sort is very much inevitable as it is socially constructed. By putting a high price on imparting education, the private schools in Kashmir have been successful in creating an impression in our society that ‘better educational opportunities’ can be only availed by the haves.
It Is More than Just A Social Problem
At a time when government run schools are failing to improve the standard of education, the private schools have become indispensable. The non-performance of government schools has provided the perfect opportunity for private schools to fill the educational vacuum. It is ironic that the teachers and officers in the education department whose negligence is responsible for sorry state of government run schools prefer to send their children to private schools.
In order to improve the standard of education in government schools, It was decided many times that the government teachers and other government employees should be directed to send their children to government run schools and thus providing clear evidence that official apathy lies at the root of the problem.
Kashmir is experiencing a rapid growth of private schools. I believe that the time is not far off when private schools will outnumber government run schools. It is definitely not a good indicator for the educational authorities because the increment in private schools manifests the failure of government schools to fulfill the responsibility of imparting education.
If it is not possible for the administration to provide better educational opportunities for the students at a lower cost, then they should, at least implement, some strict measures to curb the unauthorized fee structures in private schools so that poor students can also get a chance to study in these institutions.
—The author is a student of International Relations at IUST , Awantipora. He can be reached at: Akeelsofi@gmail.com