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Govt to privatise secondary, higher education

The Commission proposes to improve the quality of school education and give scholarships to poor kids, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2006 23:57 IST

Secondary and higher education will have higher private participation whereas the government will concentrate on pre-school education, improving quality of school education and giving scholarships to poor children even in private schools, says the final Approach Paper prepared by the Planning Commission for the next five years.

The paper is likely to be discussed in the next full commission meeting in first half of December. Highlighting the failure of the present education system, the paper emphasised on poor quality of education in government run schools and universities.

“Thirty eight per cent of children who have completed four years of schooling cannot read a small paragraph. About 55 per cent of such children cannot divide a three-digit number by one digit,” were examples demonstrated to indicate poor quality of education. 

For the poor learning, the paper has pointed out several loopholes in the system including poor motivation and accountability of teachers, their high absenteeism and inadequate training of teachers.

“Empowering Panchayats and citizen’s education committees to oversee teacher performance will help increase accountability,” the paper says.

The paper calls for major expansion of secondary education with emphasis on private participation. “The relatively better-off sections of the society has stopped sending their children to public schools,” the paper says. Though private unaided and aided schools account for 58 per cent of total secondary schools though their student intake is just 25 per cent.

In the 11th five-year plan, the commission has called for increase in intake in the private schools with emphasis on enrolment of poor bright children. To achieve the target, the commission has proposed a scholarship scheme for “bright poor children’ who first enrol in public schools and them move to private schools.

But the scheme has a rider - a common fee structure for these students in public and private schools. The paper also suggests a body to grade schools on basis of students learning facilities.

Another area of concern identified in the paper is vocational education. Only three per cent of rural youth and six per cent of urban youth have undergone any vocation training, much less than other developing countries.

A need to increase vocational training capacity from three million to 15 million has been highlighted in the paper. The commission strongly recommends active private participation and involving industry in running of over 5,000 ITIs in the country and more vocational colleges by private sector.
 
In the area of higher education, the commission has emphasised on science and Research and Development education while seeking to increase gross enrolment ratio to 20 per cent by opening doors for private education providers.  

Email Chetan Chauhan: chetan@hindustantimes.com