Private schools should drop ‘public’ from names: Draft NEP
Several private schools across the country, including some of India’s most prestigious educational institutions, may have to change their names in the next three years if a key clause of the draft national education policy (NED) by the K Kasturirangan committee is accepted by the Union government.
The use of the “public” in the names of schools owned by private individuals or institutions got the attention of the panel, which has advocated that only government schools should use the word.
“Private schools will not use the word ‘public’ in their names in any communication, documentation or declaration of status. This change will be effected by all private schools within three years. Public schools will only be those that are funded publicly, i.e, government schools (including schools run by any body of the state) and government-aided schools,” the committee headed by the former ISRO chief said in its report submitted last week.
The recommendation could have huge implications for thousands of private schools across the country that use the word “public” in their names. Among prominent private schools in Delhi that use “public” in their names are Delhi Public School, The Frank Anthony Public School, and Bal Bharati Public School.
The committee has also observed that schools must be not-for-profit entities as evidenced by their audited financial statements, which must be held to the same disclosure standards as Section 8 companies. Under the Companies Act, Section 8 companies are established for charitable or not-for-profit purposes.
The panel has held that in addition to the stipulations under the Income Tax Act, state governments may stipulate additional accounting and reporting standards for schools to discourage profiteering.
When contacted, VK Shunglu, chairman of the Delhi Public School Education Society, said the recommendations of the Kasturirangan committee are part of a draft report on which comments have been sought. “We will consult all the stakeholders. DPS is not the only one which has got ‘public’ [in its name]. I think it is a very commonly used word by schools. So we have to coordinate with other stakeholders. And more than that, we have 200 such schools, we have to make a very measured response,” he said.
Manan Budhraja, administrator of Delhi’s Mother Divine Public School, said the move would benefit not just the people but also the schools.
“This will give clarity to parents that which schools are government, government-aided or private. Secondly, it will help the schools as people will be more aware and know the functioning of different schools better. There may be rules which apply to government schools but not to private ones. This will help the people understand better,” Budhraja said.
Interestingly, on the issue of nomenclature, the panel had a recommendation even for the Union HRD (human resource development) ministry.
In order to bring the focus back on education and learning, the HRD ministry should be redesignated as the Ministry of Education (MoE), the committee has said.
The panel also advocated that the complex nomenclature such as “deemed to be university”, “affiliating university”, and “unitary university” be phased out.
Universities should be characterised only as public, private, or private-aided; and as multidisciplinary research universities or comprehensive teaching universities, the panel has suggested.