Press Release, 20.2.2010

While addressing principals of private schools yesterday, Mr. Kapil Sibal has reiterated his love for everything “private” in education in line with his statements earlier while enunciating his 100 days action target that there was nothing wrong in making profit in education. Mr. Sibal told the principals that teachers of private schools need not be paid at par with government school teachers though they must possess the same qualifications. What he recommends is running of education business where profit can be made by selling low quality education to those who are poor but wish for better education than provided by the crumbling government school system. It is an unfortunate reality that even the poor pay for availing private schooling. Instead of ensuring accessible quality school education to all, Mr. Sibal is catering to the interests of edu-business. In the free market that he is proposing the rich will access high cost private schools and the rest will access various grades of private schools. Those who cannot even afford that will be confined to government schools.

It is not surprising that Mr. Sibal assures the principals that there should be no regulations on fees. He thinks that freeing the market will lead to better quality and excellence. It is doubtful whether that is true even for those who can pay and avail class-segregated schooling system.

It is not surprising that Mr. Sibal did not stress with these principals to allocate 25% of their seats to the poor, for the education policy that he thrusts on us is antithetical to inclusiveness, to quality mass education.

Even in higher education, Mr. Sibal has also been pushing for privatization and commercialization model as a way of expanding education. To facilitate profit-making with less investment, the Government has been pressurizing all universities to switch to a uniform academic calendar. That will help private institutions to charge high fees after entering into bilateral agreements with reputed but fund-starved public funded institutions. In this zest for helping private profit, without any debate, a diktat has been issued to all universities to move to a semester system. The Government has ignored so far the contention by the academia that the semester system may adversely affect quality in universities with large number of colleges with a common examination. It is least concerned about maintenance of standards in public funded educational institutions. It only seeks to convert education into business and claims that quality is assured by free market.

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