IT APPEARS that the State Government has completely withdrawn itself from any further educational activity in urban areas and left it entirely to private sector. The thrust is mainly on ‘Sarvashiksha Abhiyan’ to achieve the target of cent per cent literacy in a stipulated time and more educational facilities are being provided in rural areas.
I think for the last many years not a single government school has been opened in big cities with the result that all types of private schools have mushroomed, mostly with the motive of making money and the worst sufferers are people belonging to low income group who have to spend a large amount on the education of their children in the absence of any other alternative.
Take the example of Bhopal city. The last secondary school was opened in Kotra Sultanabad in 1987 during my tenure in office and that, too, with the untiring efforts of the then MLA late Hasnat Siddiqi. Since then, opening of new schools has never been heard of in the City.
Probably no MP, MLA or a councillor has ever tried for a government school in their constituencies, as if education is not on the top of their agenda. I think this is the case in all big cities in the State.
Long ago when new colonies were developed in the Capital, many school buildings, fully equipped with all facilities, were constructed and today we have some very good secondary schools like Model HS School, Kamla Nehru Girls HS School and Subhash HS School (now School of Excellence). All these schools are still rated high in the academic circles, providing good education to a large number of children in the surrounding areas and that, too, at low cost.
Since then there is tremendous increase in the population of big cities and new colonies have sprung up all around but the government did not think it proper to provide educational facilities to the residents of these areas and left them at the mercy of private schools which charge high fees apart from donation, building fund etc.
I think people living in all the localities have equal rights to good and low-cost education, especially those belonging to weaker sections of society.
I do not want to underrate the role of private players in the field of education and, in fact, some private schools are maintaining high standard of education but sometimes there are complaints of the autocratic attitude of some principals and the indignities suffered by the parents, especially at the time of admission and also the exorbitant rate of fees being realised from the students.
I still remember the day when my son stood in queue for the whole wintry night, wrapped in a blanket, to get an admission form next morning from the counter of a private school in the City.
Some people say that private schools are in great demand because of the advance courses of study in CBSE-affiliated schools. But I do not find much substance in it, as the MP Board of Secondary Education is equally competent in all respects. Some parents prefer to send their children to the costliest schools in the City because they belong to more affluent sections of society.
But I think it is the growing importance of English language at the national and international level that attracts a large number of children towards private schools. I am sure if the government starts some English-medium schools and English is taught more effectively from class I, a good number of children would prefer to take admission in government schools where there are highly qualified teachers but the expenses are very low.
It is said that government is reluctant to open more schools in urban areas because of shortage of funds. But we must remember that in any welfare state education and health care are two most critical areas where money should not be a constraint and any investment in education will always pay great dividends in future.
Madhya Pradesh has already won laurels as a ‘fast-growing state’ in the country and it will add another feather to its cap if maximum educational facilities are provided to all strata of society in the shortest possible time.
(The writer is a retired Joint Director of Public Instruction MP Government, Bhopal)