What is NISA?
The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) is a platform that brings together budget private schools (BPS) from across the country to give them a unified voice to address their concerns about legislations and bye-laws which apply to them and to facilitate quality improvement in schools. As of today, NISA represents over 36,400 schools, from 20 state associations, which cater to the needs of ~9.35 million children at an average of ~250 children per school.
School, as well as systemic level change is what NISA is striving for. With its focus on building a strong platform, creating awareness around Budget Private Schools (BPS), achieving policy change and improving school quality, NISA aims to:
- Advocate the immediate concerns of low-fee and budget private schools via the media and other channels to build evidence for their relevance.
- Create an ecosystem for school Quality Improvement by partnering with different organisations working in the education space.
Where it all started?
In the year 2010, at the Enterprising Schools Symposium, the Government Engagement round table session declared Progressive Action Commitments (PACTS) on advocacy to build a facilitative environment for Budget Private Schools (BPS) and improve the image of the BPS sector. Dr. Parth J Shah, President of Centre for Civil Society made a PACT to assist BPS leaders by supporting the development of a national association and hence started the journey of NISA in 2011.
Why a platform like NISA is critical?
NISA Budget Private Schools as of today are a reality one can hardly overlook. With an enrolment of around 60 million averaging to around 29% of our students (as per the ASER Report 2013), they have come across as a natural response of edu-preneurs to meet the urgent education needs of the nation. Operating on wafer thin margins, their emphasis has been on learning outcomes rather than only on infrastructure and facilities. Systematic research has shown that they produce the same learning outcomes as the government schools, but at only one-third the cost (Study by Karthik Muralidharan).
Despite all the pros, today Budget private schools are at a threat of facing closure due to the norms laid down under the Right to Education Act. Considering the pivotal role they play in expanding the access of education to the poorest in India, it becomes imperative that a platform like NISA raises their concerns which will positively affect the larger education space in the country.
What we do?
In order to create an enabling ecosystem for budget private schools to improve accessibility, affordability and quality of education for the economically weaker sections of the society, NISA engages with stakeholders to:
- Enhance image and voice of budget private schools through access to media and help them build evidence through systematic linkages with academia
- Bring together different stakeholders including service providers, education experts, investors, financial institutions, thought leaders, education service providers, principals of affordable school, proprietors and association heads.
- Conduct workshops and trainings on leadership management, classroom teaching techniques and other quality education modules with budget private schools.
- provide legal aid via a network of lawyers across the country
- Enable BPS to have better access to credit and other services at affordable rate
- Be an access point for relevant information for BPS
Why budget private schools?
A Budget performing school derives a significant proportion of its funding from sources other than the State.
Bureaucratic sclerosis, powerful teachers unions with little incentive to teach, and corruption have contributed to an ineffective education system in India. Many of the nation's poor have opted out of government schools, choosing instead to send their children to independent budget private schools that provide better outcomes at lower costs. Budget private schools are an entrepreneurial response to meet urgent education needs by expanding access to the poorest children. Catering to economically weaker sections of society, these schools operate on wafer thin margins. Despite lack of infrastructure and facilities, systematic research over the past decade has shown that learning outcomes in these schools are equal to or better than those of far more resourceful government schools.
With the norms laid down by the RTE act, especially those that are concerned with physical infrastructure, these schools face closure. It is important to understand that these schools are addressing a pressing need in society and are increasing the choice and quality of education available to diverse and disadvantaged sections of society. NISA believes that the government should work to create a conducive environment for the functioning of these schools and recognize the role they are playing in the education sector.