On Fee Hikes

On Fee Hikes
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As private schools mushroom in Kashmir to fill in the “demand gap” for education and its shoddy and sub -par provision by Government schools, the issue of fee structures and hikes thereof have become salient. This particular issue is an important that must neither be ignored nor brushed under the carpet. The administration’s response it has been rather reflexive: it has deregistered a couple or so prominent schools. The name of the game here appears to be in the nature of making an example of these schools and thereby putting pressure on these, so that others fall in line. But, to repeat, this is a reflexive response. That is, it is neither well thought nor well conceived. It amounts to stating the obvious here that education in Kashmir is viewed by the denizens of place as the avenue for upward, social and economic mobility. As such there is a huge demand for it. This demand has been filled by all and sundry. Very few private players enter the domain of education for social or higher purposes; their aim is usually to make money and seek profits. Given the unstructured nature of the “playing field” , so to speak, fee structures and hikes thereof are often times, determined by the schools themselves. ( There are other ways of making money wherein the parents of wards enrolled in schools are asked to cough up money for and over assorted “activities” and so on). It stands to reason to posit that our society’s economic structure follows a pyramid like structure, with different economic classes lying on different sections of the pyramid. In lieu of this, not everyone can afford to pay exorbitant fees. Education then must be made affordable. Moreover, given the nature of the market here( which is haphazard, rudimentary and basic), there’s no market clearing level or an equilibrium point here. The administration then has to step in. The question that arises here is how? By and through being a prudent and deft regulator is the answer. In terms of the fee structures of schools, the administration must devise and formulate a ceiling or a level beyond which no school should be able to charge fees. Strict penalties must be devised and made for those who breach this ceiling. Furthermore, the approach toward education must be a stakeholder one wherein parents, children , the school and other parties act in concert with the aim of the welfare of children. This approach would create and impart the necessary equilibrium in the domain of education in Kashmir which, at this point in time, is sorely missing.