Lucknow Budget Private Schools Advocacy Meeting

Event Date: 
Tuesday, 12 January, 2016 to Wednesday, 13 January, 2016
Event Venue: 
City Montessori School
Lucknow, India

Uttar Pradesh Government has issued a school closure notice to 106 schools and they are under process of issuing notice to another 2000 schools. 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.

To advocate against the school closure process NISA did an advocacy visit to Lucknow from 12th Janaury and 13th January 2016 with the support of City Montessori School. CMS is a co-educational English medium private school that offers education from Pre-school up to K-12 level in Lucknow, India. The school was founded in 1959 by Drs Bharti Gandhi and Jagdish Gandhi.

NISA president Mr.Kulbhushan Sharma and Mr. A S Mahajan – District President Haryana Private Schools Federation and S R Thomas Antony – Advocacy Associate were part of this advocacy trip.

The visit included a meeting with 60 budget private schools, meeting with Basic Shiksha Adhikari, Education Secretary and followed by a press conference. These are some problems faced by Low cost private schools in Uttar Pradesh regarding the implementation of norms and condition laid down as per RTE Act 2009.

Problems and Proposed Solutions

  1. The difficulty or impossibility of compliance with RTE infrastructure and other norms, which is leading to the closure of many private unaided schools, thus denying children the right to education or at least the right to study in their chosen school;    The emphasis should be on the learning outcomes and not on infrastructure.
  2. Ambiguity about the entry point for admission into private schools (nursery or class 1); there being no budget for reimbursement for pre-primary classes but children are still being sent at that level; The entry point should be only in one class, whether nursery or first class.
  3. Mapping of the schools has not been done and neighbourhood schools have not been identified. Wrongly defining 'neighbourhood' as electoral ward, instead of a One Kilo meter distance as specified in the Right to Education act 2009 the government has wrongly taken wards as neighbourhood unit which is contradictory to the act.
  4. Sending students for admission to private schools without properly checking their EWS/income status; 25% quota is only for EWS students, while the government is sending the students for admission under this quota without verification of their income. There should be proper verification of income of parents of those children who are getting admission under this quota.
  5. Reimbursement planned by the state government is very meagre and contradictory to the act. The act has specified that the reimbursement will be equal to per student expenditure by the government in its schools or the actual fees charged by the schools. The schools have been asked the seats vacant up to September. In such a case the reimbursement should be based not on the actual admissions but on the number of seats kept vacant. We proposed that the government should give education vouchers of Rs 2000 per month to each EWS students for seeking admission to a school of their own choices
  6. Exams at Primary and Middle Level No detention policy prescribed under RTE should be scrapped. State boards or other boards or government may be allowed to hold primary and middle level exams. But these exams should be optimal and the schools should be free to hold the examinations up to middle level on their own and to issue certificate for the same.
  7. Autonomy in internal administration Schools should have autonomy about timings of schools, declaration of holidays, method of teaching and other academic issues. Schools should be free to raise fee up to 15% every year. There should be no fee regulation committee as it only tends corruption. However if a school seeks to raise fee more than 15%, it will justify that decision to authorities concerned. Teacher Eligibility Test - TET should be held for eligibility for admission to B Ed course and not after B Ed.
  8. Exemption from Commercial taxes. Non profit schools should be exempted from commercial charges for water, electricity, house/property tax and from labor laws like ESI, Shop tax, Provident Fund, Gratuity etc. As it will increase the cost of education because payment for all this has to be made out of students fees.

During the meeting it was decided to form state wide association of Budget Private Schools. An Ad hoc committee was formed for the purpose and a meeting on 24th January has been fixed to draw the next line of action. The 24th January Meeting aims to mobilize thousands of budget private schools across the Uttar Pradesh and will strongly advocate against the school closure and other policy issues.

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