Government school teachers do not trust the schools where they teach and earn their living as far as the study of their children is concerned. Instead, their loyalty lies with the private schools and prefer to send their wards there as they feel these schools are better groomed there. Chances of preferring a private school over a government one are ten times. This revelation came from the data of 37 schools in Barnala district compiled by HT.
The divided loyalty between government and public schools makes them government school teachers to go by the belief ‘Earn from government schools, learn from private ones.’
Out of 293 teachers of 37 schools, 27 teachers relied on government schools by sending their wards to these schools. In sharp contrast, 266 teachers sent their 342 wards to private schools clearly undermining the confidence in the public school system. This way, 90% of government school teachers decided to rely on private schools.
Despite qualified teachers and hefty salaries, government schools are considered to be meant for poor and underprivileged children.
Parents are ready to send their wards to private schools by paying monthly fees in thousands where teachers are getting about `8,000 as monthly salaries. But they are not willing to rely on government schools where no fee is charged and teachers are employed at a monthly salary of more than Rs 30,000.
In Government Senior Secondary School, Pharwahi, none of the children of 32 teachers is studying in a government school. 32 wards of 24 teachers from this school are studying in private schools.
According to statistics of Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE 2014-15), published by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), as many as 54.46% of secondary schools and 56.37% of higher secondary schools of Punjab are in private hands.
Governments have focussed on 'accessibility' by making education free, compulsory and providing mid-day meal, but learning does not happen automatically.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, only 22% students of Class-5 in Punjab can recognise numbers between 10 and 99.
As against 1,854 sanctioned posts of teachers in government schools of the district, only 1,154 posts are filled and 700 are vacant. Though the state enjoys a decent pupil-teacher ratio of 21:1, vacancies as high as 37.75% of sanctioned posts in the district do not inspire confidence in government schools.
Private schools, it is commonly felt, have greater discipline, achieve higher academic achievement and offer overall a better atmosphere coupled with neat classrooms, labs and other infrastructure. Government schools, on the other hand, are presumed to be painting a picture of disorder, decay, dismay and an unwholesome environment.
Though teachers in government schools often rue for doing all sorts of work such as surveys, online submission of various data, election duty, preparation of mid-day meal etc, private school teachers often have to be content with low salaries.
Bureaucrats, politicians and government officers do not usually bother to check the functioning requirements of government schools. These schools have become a mode of earning political mileage instead of real catering to its need. Whatever is made available by system, it remains 'as is and where is'.
The recent judgement of Allahabad High Court directed the chief secretary to issue directions that children of government servants, representatives of people, judiciary and all such persons whoreceive any perk, benefit or salary etc from the state exchequer or public fund, send their wards to state-run primary schools. The judgement, having larger ramifications and repercussions, has sent strong signals to other states as well.
If all government employees are made to send their children to public schools, then they would certainly have a vested interest in making meaningful improvement in the public education system.
Director of public instructions (DPI), schools (secondary), Balbir Singh Dhol said, “We are applying top-down as well as bottom-up approach for improving the standard of government schools. In meritorious schools, we allow admission only to students from government schools. Two years ago, about 1,400 students of government schools secured 80% marks, last year this figure was 3,400 and in current year figure of 8,700 shows improvement.”
“We have rationalized 6,733 posts to lower the vacancies in government schools. Now we have demanded from government to fill up of 12,000 posts of teachers,” Dhol said.
District Education Officer (secondary education) Harkanwaljit Kaur said, “In our department, discussions are held regularly on ways to attract children to government schools. But, it is up to teachers individually as to where they want their kids to study.”
Education minister Daljit Singh Cheema could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Govt schools: More salaries, meager or no fees
Private schools: Less salaries, more fees