EDUCATION: Concern over school choice

EDUCATION: Concern over school choice – equitable distribution or higher education costs plus quality ?!!

School Children in the rain - a choice between two futures ?!!

BY BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY

New Delhi, Aug. 11: A high-level committee reviewing the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has expressed concern over the increasing preference for private schools and suggested a nationwide survey to find out the reasons.

The Joint Review Mission, a 12-member committee including representatives from the human resource development ministry, the World Bank, the UK government’s department for international development and the European Commission, studied the implementation of the programme for universalising elementary education in the country from July 19 to 30 and submitted its report to the ministry last week.

“The committee has expressed concerns about more and more parents sending their children to private schools. It recommended a nationwide survey of the parents who are sending their children to private schools to know the reason for this trend,” an HRD ministry official said.

Former NCERT director Krishna Kumar headed the committee.

At present, there are 1.29 million government-run elementary schools in the country. Private schools make up only 7 per cent of all schools, but their number is fast increasing as more parents opt for them.

The survey should aim at understanding parents’ aspirations for their children’s education and seek their suggestions on how government schools can be improved, the committee said. Studies conducted by the National University Educational Planning and Administration in the past have revealed the dearth of teachers and basic facilities such as toilets and classrooms in government schools.

The review committee also found that Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were lagging behind in the implementation of the education scheme. The teacher-student ratio and the gross enrolment of children in schools was lower in these states than others.

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