A long overdue step

It is an open secret that those who run private schools are interested more in minting money that in imparting quality education. The fees are hiked regularly on one pretext or another. The hapless parents of the wards are made to pay through their nose. The Centre, at long last, is going to put an end to this money-making business. The Centre is contemplating to bring in legislation to regulate school fees. As the murder at the Ryan International School last year exposed, despite charging exorbitant fees, few schools have adequate security arrangement for their students. Such incidents have happened in Kolkata also. CCTV cameras do not work, outsiders can gain entrance freely, nobody checking their entry or exit, those responsible for keeping an oversight are slack in their duty. Incidents of molestation of students, especially girl students, take place frequently. Major incidents are reported, minor ones are hushed up. Schools which have very few equipment for sports charge heavy game fees. The list is endless. But the fees keep rising.
The Centre’s initiative to regulate school fees is welcome but this is not enough. There has to be periodic checking whether the schools are employing qualified teachers, whether library facilities for both students and teachers are available and for science students at the higher secondary level, whether there are well-equipped laboratories. The present trend is to allot pass marks to as many students as possible so that failure rate is kept at a minimum. Quite often those who pass are found to be pitiably weak in almost every subject. This makes them unemployable. The problem is complex. Guardians who pay heavily for their children’s education expect their wards to pass successfully. Students also insist that they be given pass marks even if they have not attended classes for the requisite number of days. There have been cases of teachers being manhandled by students.
The teachers on their part are also not blameless. Even headmasters are known to have been detected leaking question papers to students. Some teachers opened question paper packets much before the time fixed. Some have been caught video-graphing the strong rooms where question papers are kept. All these are reported cases where teachers broke the rules. There are many more which are unreported. The education system has to be thoroughly revamped. It is a good thing that the Government is going to rein in the private schools from arbitrary hiking of fees. But that will not be enough. Political rivalry between students’ and teachers’ unions also creates problems, sometimes degenerating into violence. Despite the intrinsic flaws in the education system, many bright and brilliant students are passing out every year. If the system were rid of the flaws, even mediocre students would do better.

Saturday, 9 June, 2018