Public private partnerships will bring in quality of education at Delhi’s municipal schools.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has given its nod to such a private public partnership (PPP).
The ministry wrote a letter to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), asking the latter to identify five schools where the PPP model can be implemented.
“Private players will be roped in to improve infrastructure, provide content and train teachers in select MCD schools,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity. “If the experiment succeeds, we will implement it in other government schools of the country.”
The government's flagship programme, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, has increased enrollment in schools and reduced the number of children out of school in the country from 1.34 crore in 2005 to 80.43 lakh in 2009.
The quality of education has remained a problem.
Lack of infrastructure such as toilets and drinking water lead to 47 per cent dropout in primary students.
There is also a huge shortage of teachers — one in every 10 schools needs faculty — with 25 to 250 students being taught by a single teacher.
The states have employed teachers on contract to meet this shortfall, but the candidates are often not qualified enough and underpaid.
In Delhi, ASSOCHAM, a body comprising industries, has shown interest in taking up the pilot project that would be funded by a private party, HRD officials said.
The government has also proposed to set up 2,500 high quality model schools in partnership with private firms.
The HRD Ministry and the Planning Commission are yet to agree upon a suitable PPP model for this project.
Another PPP model aimed to improve the government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) that provide skill-based trainings has not fared very well.
A review by the Planning Commission in August 2009 found that as little as Rs 42 crore of the Rs 1,500 crore or 2.8 per cent had been utilised in two years.
Private players said the partnership will not work in the absence of a clear policy.
“Private players can do a lot to improve infrastructure and efficiency of existing government schools,” said Ashish Rajpal, managing director, iDiscoveri Education, a company that provides schools the know-how to improve quality.
“They can also set up schools irrespective of the location,” he said. “But first the government has to create a level playing field with strong regulations.”