Education is no money minting
The way private education institutions are functioning in Kashmir have raised many eyebrows over the past one month. Such has been the reportage on this issue that the government in several case had to intervene and issue directions and guidelines as well.
The latest controversy has been generated by the fact that various private schools have been compelling parents to buy books and other materials from one particular shop which has been resisted at various levels.
In today’s world education is emerging as a public service rather than a mere commercial venture. Education therefore has a key role in creating an inclusive society. So, given that it’s a force for public good, the profit provision brings risks that are difficult to manage. But having said that, there are certain issues that need to be looked into.
The education system is still at a nascent stage in Jammu and Kashmir and it will take decades to emerge and qualify to be called a developed sector. But the sector that has been deprived of growth prospects needs to be hand held by the government and other concerned and let it flourish to suffice the educational needs of our society.
However, this does not mean that the private education sector will be turned into a money minting venture-that will be controlled and manipulated by a few for their personal benefit.
The education sector already has a degree of profit provision in the system – publishers that provide textbooks and other software’s, agencies that provide other materials like uniforms and activity material are already into profit making.
These companies or organizations are into the trade as profit organisations, and it doesn’t bother anyone that they’re making money out of the education system. But what concerns us as a society is the intervention of these profit making businesses into the education sector.
The education institutions also need to draw a line here. Their focus has to be on providing of quality services and for this they have every right to charge from the parents of the wards, but as far as they getting involved in providing of materials is concerned is a matter of alarm for the general public.
Education sector needs to be streamlined and providing quality education should be the guiding force for the private players to improve and further the sector. For this the use of new and modern technology should be adopted in schools so that our children become capable enough to brace up for the challenges ahead.
This of course needs more investment on the part of school owners, but this investment can be raised using lawful business models rather than shady deals and understandings with publishers and others who are involved in supply of materials in the education sector.
The school owners also need to give an open choice to parents to choose their purchases from the market at competitive prices rather than fixing only selected outlets for sale. The government too needs to play its role and fix a single pattern of text books to be taught in schools.