Unhealthy Commercialization of School Education in J&K

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By Fida Hussain

Sodagar healthy discourse has been ignited regarding the unhealthy commercialization of school education in the state. The debates have been done before also, but the discussions died down promptly. The administration has, from time to time, proved to be ineffective in taking the private schools head on. Recently, parents complained that the private schools are forcing them to buy text books at exorbitant rates. This should be a matter of concern for all of us. The limitless mushrooming of private schools in the state without any regulation has eroded discipline in the education system.
The paradigm shift in school education from being a noble service to profit generating business in J & K is a detrimental trend. The commercialization of education has transformed private schools into well established business hubs. The local newspapers are filled with colorful and attractive advertisements on full pages from private institutions claiming to provide best quality education. More than half of the TV commercials broadcasted are related to the promotion of influential private schools. There is a well planned marketing campaign prevalent in the private education sector in the state. The real essence of the education has been choked and devastated. Private schools have transformed into money minters instead of being as ambassadors of knowledge. Commercialization of education in the state has not only given education a burdened image, but also promoted divisive policies. Since profit is the main motive, these education conglomerates mostly cater to the elite community. Education has been rendered as a mere commodity without any strict regulation.
The nomenclatures like International, Oxford, and Harvard and so on are linked with the titles of private schools to give a sense of being as institutes of international excellence. These terms are exploited as marketing strategies to ensnare parents. Private schools in the state have also injected the concept of “brandism” in the education system. The parents are forced to buy the notebooks of a particular brand essentially the expensive ones. The branded uniforms are encouraged. New type of uniforms on different days is the latest publicity stunt. The unwarranted fee hike on the pretext of advanced infrastructure is rampant in these institutions.
Even the government in 2013 had constituted a high-level School Fee Fixation committee to look into the fee hikes, but it failed to bring the change in the scenario. If you are rich, you are welcome and if you are poor, you rejected and dejected have become the tagline of so called best private schools. They don’t give a damn to the government instructions and rules. This is a scam of larger magnitude.
Of late, the private schools have dominated the educational ecosystem in the state brutally and aggressively. If we will always blame Government schools for poor results, we would be propagating a half truth. The influential private schools put the students to rigorous admission tests and get the bright students admitted. Other land in Government schools and the result becomes obvious. The million dollar question here is why the government is not able to regulate private schools in J & K? The Government has failed to act time and again. The Private school mafia is overtly doing the business in the name of quality education. Education has become a tragedy. The infrastructure in government schools need to be developed on latest lines and the healthy studying environment needs to be cultivated, so that the Private education business houses get shut down. The government schools should attract the brilliant minds and become manufacturers of success. There is a need of committed and clear cut policy regarding the regulation of mushrooming private institutes; otherwise it will lead to the victimization of education.

The author holds a P.G in Mass Communication and Journalism and writes on various issues. He can be reached at: f.hussainsodagar@gmail.com.