Indian schooling system doing a daylight robbery under a noble guise

Blogging has been weak as the blogger has been struggling with loads of personal work. Apologies to all the visitors. I am hardly getting anytime to read and follow economics.

Here is a post which comes out of plain frustration. Loads is pointed about India’s so called demographic dividend ignoring the most important ingredient required in the dividend- quality of education. Surveys keep highlighting the problems but fall on deaf ears.  I would like to step even one step lower and focus on school admissions and ongoing looting/robbing being done by schools in broad day light. And no one really cares barring some parents protesting against some school every year. What is  needed instead is a nation wide protest against the private schooling system which keep harassing parents.

India is going through many changes some good and some bad. Education is clearly in the latter category and could be a calamity if not addressed now. Not just quality of education is going down but in some time most education would become unaffordable as well.

Public schools run by govt are not an option for most parents and hence private schools are preferred. Surveys show parents with low incomes are also trying to put their children into private schools. Education as a key to success is understood by most and hence a rush for private schools.

Private schools meanwhile are cashing into the rush bigtime. It has led schools to define fee structure across categories fleecing parents any and whichever way:

  • One time admission fee: This item has always been there but was much lower and was non-refundable. Now it is a euphemism for  donation and is non-refundable. This could range from 30k-70k depending on the brand value of the school. Brand value these days is not on quality of education but all non-education related activities – fancy class rooms, AC classes etc etc.
  • Donation: This still exists in case schools have a low admission fee which is refundable.
  • Annual Fees: This is a random item which stands for fee for school related activities.
  • Monthly fees: Earlier this head was the dominant head but what was annual bill under this has become a monthly bill.
  • Books and Uniform: The fee under this head has zoomed as well. It is very interesting that most schools also tie with shoes brands and push parents into buying shoes from these brands only. Needless to say most brands are Nike, Adidas and likes. Why should this be? Why should schools force parents into buying shoes they may not be able to afford? Parents were free to make their choices earlier but now all these things have been contracted to certain parties/companies for a price ofcourse.
  • Some other charges: If annual fee was not enough, parents could be forced into paying for things like annual function, picnics, visits etc.
  • Bus charges

It might not end here and there could be many more charges as well. Victims are free to share their bit…

Why don’t most parents reject all this? Well what does one do? In absence of court system and lack of time most relent to pressure. Is not educating your child a choice at all? This is clike the middle class in India which accepts anything from government and chooses instead not to vote. Who has the time and energy to fight the system which is so against you

What is the government doing? Not surprisingly, most schools are run by politicians directly or indirectly. Hence there is no action and just talk. The same government which is hellbent on ruining the top institutes like IITs, IIMs and Univs says nothing on schools at all. It is not that they are unaware or ignorant. But with so much at stake, they chose to do nothing.

There is a need for some regulation (control actually) on this daylight robbery. But in the absence of demands from parents and guardians things just go on. Some Parents do revolt against some schools but it is specific to some school. What is needed is resistance against the whole schooling system which demands hefty payments.

Look I am not against schools pricing their goods. Neither I am asking for education to be subsidised. All I am saying is schooling should be made affordable and good education should be available across incomes. Parents are free to choose their school depending on their ability to pay. This whole business of charging one time non-refundable fee is a simple loot. And they also top with fee under various heads. Most parents are like those hapless villagers shown in old hindi movies who just get robbed as they have no choice. Again they get robbed as government does not provide them any security.

But then moment I talk of government involvement via regulation, I am flirting with danger. Govt will do anything but regulation given its past record. The next solution is for schools to cooperate as Lin Ostrom suggested and self-regulate the system. But given the competition and fight to make money, this again looks unlikely.

So, what choices do aggrieved parents have? The temples of learning have simply becomes temples of earning (much like temples of worship) and whole system is crumbling. A country which has huge history and respect for education where teachers are placed before gods, has just become another greedy business. The worst bit is people can’t aviod buying this good and hence it remains and gets more greedy by the day. It is funny to note on websites of schools on how their school drives its vision from likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda or some other great minds and at the same time indulge in  these practices. When did these great minds advise these temples to become greedy monsters? These minds would clearly be very uncomfortable in their heavenly abodes..

Overall, developments in primary education is a wide reflection of what is going on Indian society where money is placed above every thing else. However, there are certain areas like education which cannot be allowed to go into this path. We are way behind even most low income economies on education parameters. Making education unaffordable will only make things worse in times ahead. Does anyone care?

3 Responses to “Indian schooling system doing a daylight robbery under a noble guise”

  1. Shiva Ram Says:

    This situation has trickled down from the huge engineering/medical/higher education colleges. They follow the same arbitrary rules and ask for huge sums of money.

  2. anil Says:

    My Dad born in 50’s had to go 8 km to complete lat two years of his High school. But they poor or rich in the village used to go to same Govt School. In my time the thing were different but still manageble(but may be i cam from small town). Looking at the school fees today, and queue for the admission in some school in delhi,


  3. A.Ram Says:

    Azim Premji Foundation is doing some path-breaking work in this regard.

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