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Governance Issues facing Private Education Institutions

Synopsis: The private educational institutions are failing to deliver optimum results. Thus, the role of the state in providing accessibility in educational institutions can’t be ignored.

Background:
  • The two renowned faculties of Ashoka university (Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian) have recently resigned. Allegedly, the owners of the institution were cautious of their outspoken criticism of the government.
  • This instance questions the ability of private institutions to withstand the government’s pressure and deliver optimum results in the field of education.  
Rationale behind privatisation:
  • They promise to possess greater academic freedom as the government plays no role in the appointment of faculty and staff. Further, they are not dependent on government aid for carrying out day-to-day activities.
    • For instance, JNU’s freedom has been curtailed by the appointment of a favourable Vice-Chancellor by Govt. Stricter norms, budget cuts, and frequent student clashes have been seen after the appointment.
  • They promise better academic performance of students by providing better infrastructure and good quality teachers. They use this as a crucial factor for attracting parents towards them.
  • Likewise, they complement the government schools and universities that don’t have the capacity to solely accommodate the huge Indian population.
Concerns with Privatisation:
  • Rising Inequalities: Private institutions create a class divide. They are costly and expensive thus beyond the scope of many people. Further gender and caste inequalities are also prevalent in them. 
    • The boys and students from upper-caste backgrounds are overwhelmingly represented in private institutions relative to public ones. 
  • Profit Motive: Many private institutions are established by Businessmen who also need to protect their business interests. This leads to moulding of the institution’s policy in line with the government’s interest or the popular sentiment in society.
    • For instance, historian Ramachandra Guha had to decline to join Ahmedabad University after a religious group’s protest over his appointment.
  • Overnight Closures: Many private institutions promise good quality education at low rates. Less fees results in poor infrastructure and inefficient teachers, thereby threatening their survival and leading to overnight closures. This puts many children out of the education map.
  • Security of Tenure: This is not available in private institutions due to which teachers have to surrender towards the wishes of private management.
    • For instance, even with frequent clashes between VC and teachers, no full-time faculty was forced to resign from JNU.
  • Flawed Results: Better results are generated due to the privileged children studying in them and not the quality of resources offered by them.
Way Forward:
  • There should be democratic decision-making within the private universities. This will provide greater resilience against the government’s pressure and strengthen academic freedom. For instance, Vice-Chancellors in private universities should be made part of the decision-making process.
  • Recommendations of the Central Square Foundation report on private participation can be implemented. It’s recommendations includes:
    • Reviewing the non-profit mandate for the education sector and existing fee regulations 
    • Opening corporate governance structures to private schools
    • Classifying private schools as micro, small, or medium enterprises
  • There should be proper implementation of the Right to Education act. So that, at least 25% of students in private institutions come from diverse backgrounds.

Apart from reforming the private sector, the role of state can’t be ignored for maintaining a just and equal educational system.

Source: Indian Express 

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