Budget private schools and government to be 'partners' in education: Manish Sisodia

The Times of India
News Dated: 
28-Sep-2016

NEW DELHI: Budget private schools may be given a place in the Delhi Government's large scheme for education too. Speaking at a conference of the lobby group, National Independent Schools Allianceand its state-level affiliates, education minister Manish Sisodia said they may be roped in to run "early childhood care and education" centres in mohallas that will, eventually, serve as "feeder schools" for the government system.

Referring to the superior public system for ECCE in Finland - a major take-away from his trip - Sisodia said, "As a start, some centres can be run as pilot schools and the government will fund them. They'll be like mohalla clinics.

After that, they can join the government system in Class I." Currently, the only provision for ECCE in the government system is the aanganwadi network. The other take-away from Finland was that the ultimate responsibility for education, rests with the government. "Wherever education standards are good, it is good on the strength of public education," he says.

The conference was organised - apparently on the prompting of the minister himself - to bring to his notice issues budget school-owners face. Sisodia promised to simplify the process of setting up and operating budget private schools by creating a "single-window system" for obtaining various permits. Approaching policy purely from the perspective of corruption-control, Sisodia believes a single window system will "shut-down" the "chai-pani business" at different agencies. He is not opposed to granting complete recognition to schools that were given the provisional one in the wake of the Right to Education Act; nor is he opposed to granting recognition all the way to Class XII if they have "rooms". The 'land norms' for recognition - minimum land required for a school up to a certain level was specified in the Delhi Development Authority's Master Plan for Delhi - had been diluted to some extent in 2013 itself. Budget private school advocates want them further diluted or converted into "minimum-number-of-rooms" such that schools can be "upgraded" into senior or senior secondary schools. Sisodia was handed a list of 100 such schools and their 'data'. He'll have officials "analyse" it.

The minister also said that the amount allocated per child studying in the economically weaker section quota, has been raised and from the forthcoming year, the government will earmark amounts separately for uniform and books.

Budget private schools are also considering improving quality by creating their own version of pilot schools and through teacher training. Staff salary, however, is a problem. Sisodia reminded them that his government has already struck down Section 10(1) of the Delhi School Education Act 1972 but that's awaiting the Centre's nod.

The schools also wanted to be charged domestic rates for electricity, water and taxes. Sisodia doesn't think that's doable but the government is willing to include "representatives" from budget private schools in its committees.