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When schools are teaching shops

Did you know that Delhi has more public schools than any other city in the world?

india Updated: Mar 13, 2004 00:44 IST
Freehand | Soni Sangwan
Freehand | Soni Sangwan

Did you know that Delhi has more public schools than any other city in the world?

It is obviously very ‘profitable’ to be running a school. Everybody from the bored housewife — with her colony school — to the big business houses — with their centrally air-conditioned schools — want a piece of the action. But what they probably do not know or rather choose to ignore is that the very bylaws under which they get recognition for their school state that the business of education cannot be for profit.

But with teaching shops becoming the norm rather than the exception, it took Ashok Agarwal, senior counsel and convenor of NGO Social Jurist, to remind schools of the philanthropic nature of their genesis. It was on his petition that the Delhi High Court directed the Delhi government to submit a report on whether schools that had taken land on concessional rates from the DDA are fulfilling the mandatory requirement of teaching a specified percentage of poor students for free.

Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely has taken this a step further and is now in the process of finalising rules according to which even schools that have not taken concessional land will have to take in a specified percentage of poor students. The model the government is planning involves an integrated approach — schools cannot get away by hiding behind afternoon shifts run by NGOs on their premises. To begin from the next academic session, it will be incumbent on schools to admit a specified percentage of students from poor families in the starting class of their school. This ensures that those who had voiced concerns about the psychological impact of integration on the underprivileged students are silenced.

Jyoti Bose, principal of Springdales and chairperson of the National Progressive Schools’ Conference, emotionally admitted at the annual conference of the group of schools, that integration should have come from the heart of the schools rather than through a court order. She also agrees that that integration from the starting class is the best option.

For those schools worried about the financial implications of this move, Arvinder Singh Lovely has an offer — the government does not want any school to suffer financially, so if any school feels that they will not be able to manage, they can approach the government for help. The government is willing to take over these schools and fund them through the government-aided schools scheme.

First Published: Mar 13, 2004 00:44 IST