60k pvt schools up in arms against ‘govt’s interference’

The Times of India
News Dated: 
13-Oct-2017

Ambala: As many as 60,000 private schools across the nation under the banner of National Independent School Alliance (NISA) marked October 12 as 'black day', in protest against the excessive interference of government in the functioning of private schools. They hoisted black flags at schools' gates and wore black bands on arms, claimed NISA national president Kulbhushan Sharma.

Private schools across the country decided to hold a protest after the increased surveillance of the private schools by the government following the incident at Ryan Schools' in Gurgaon where an 8-year-old was allegedly murdered. NISA national president Sharma said government has been trying to instil fear and insecurity amongst the private schools.

The NISA president said the schools have been ordered to get teachers' character verification and psychometric test to be conducted. It has also been decided that a case would be registered against the school principal if a student encounters any accident. "Teachers and other staff of private schools are being harassed in the name of police verification, although 80% of the teaching and non-teaching staff were women," alleged Sharma.

The state education minister Ram Bilas Sharma, on his visit to Ambala a couple of days before, stated, "There are 11 lakh private school teachers and 5 lakh teachers in the government-recognised schools, who do not meet the conditions of B.Ed and JBT (junior basic training). Teacher, who have been teaching for the past 10 to 15 years but do not meet the requirements of B.Ed and JBT have been given the opportunity till October 2020, to complete their education online. Strict action would be taken for the defaulters after the deadline provided by the government."

He further added, "The education minister gave the example of 'Ram Rajya'. I want to ask that whether the teacher's mind and character certificate was required in the Ram Rajya too? Does our culture refer to teachers as criminals?"

The forum president said that if the demands of the private schools' were not met, they would be forced to intensify the protest. He also gave a charter of demands in the name of the Prime Minister to the Ambala deputy commissioner today.

Student enrolment in govt schools goes down
NISA president Kulbhushan Sharma said, "According to an analysis of raw data from the District Information System on Education (DISE) by Geeta Gandhi, despite the number of government schools increasing by 13,498 between 2010 and 2014, student enrolment in government schools has gone down by 1.13 crore while enrolment in private schools has gone up by 1.85 crore. Out of 10.2 lakh government schools, around 1 lakh have only up to 20 students on their rolls and another 3.6 lakh have only up to 50 students. Parents are choosing private schools over government due to the better quality of education, accountability towards parents and affordability." He said while private schools have made its contribution to bring equity, efficiency and quality in school education, their autonomy was increasingly being curbed.