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Private School Regulation

What is Private School Regulation

  • As per the latest U-DISE data, there is a considerable shift in enrollment from Government Schools to Private Schools in the State. In U.P., over 53% children are attending private schools, while there is no regulatory body to control their functioning.
  • Commercialization, monopoly, segregation, uncontrolled fee hike and parents’ harassment have been common complaints across the country, especially among elite private schools, while those at the bottom of the pile are offering no better quality than public schools.
  • The evidence based on surveys suggests that the true size of private schools across Uttar Pradesh is massively underestimated in official data due to enumerating only recognized schools.
  • The increase in the demand for private education sectors has caused challenges both from demand and supply side and has thus resulted in growth of unrecognized private schools. These unrecognized schools are not homogeneous in character and are neither affiliated to the education authorities nor registered with any other agency.
  • The broader vision behind the idea of Private School Regulation is to identify ways to govern the Private educational sector by identifying measures to facilitate equitable access and hold these schools accountable to education of acceptable standards.

Why Private school regulation

  • Segregation in access to education in India had been escalating since the 1970s, when a large number of private schools capitalized on the opportunity to provide separate schools for the middle class. This initial segregation was further perpetuated with a boom in the availability of low-fee private schools catering towards lower income families. Enjoyment of the right to education, in particular, regarding availability and accessibility of free education, equality and quality are being heavily impacted in a negative way due to privatization of education.
  • The increase in the demand for private education sectors has caused challenges both from demand and supply side and has thus resulted in growth of unrecognized private schools. These unrecognized schools are not homogeneous in character and are neither affiliated to the education authorities nor registered with any other agency.
  • It has become such a grave concern worldwide that United Nations too had to take notice and pass a resolution that was adopted during the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council (13th June to 1st July 2016), urging all States to “address any negative impacts of the commercialization of education”, by three pronged action:
    ― Put in place a regulatory framework in order to monitor and govern education providers
    ― Hold private education providers accountable for any negative impact on the right to education
    ― Support appropriate research
  • Other UN human rights bodies, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education and UN monitoring bodies have already raised serious concerns regarding the explosive and unregulated growth of private education providers. This large scale commercialization of education raises serious human rights concerns and it is high time that the situation is realized and measures be taken.

Status in Uttar Pradesh

  • According to the U.P. Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh, there are more than 50,000 fake schools running in the state, of which nearly 2,000 are in Lucknow alone, which is again a rough idea.
  • While working for RTE implementation in Uttar Pradesh, RWF had approached DIOS and BSAs seeking assistance pertaining to database of private schools running in Lucknow. The authorities felt powerless with regards to private schools and lamented that they had no records concerning the private education sector, and were not in a position to provide help regarding the same.
  • Additionally, RightWalk had also come across schools that are non-existent in nature, but have a valid UDISE code and are also listed on DISE. There have also been cases where genuine private schools were found struggling to get recognition due to harassment by district officers.

RightWalk’s Intervention

  • RightWalk Foundation jointly conducted a workshop with UNICEF and UP Government in Lucknow from 7 to 8 December 2017 to strengthen the educational standards and governance model of state’s private schools.
  • Workshop titled “CO-CREATING A POLICY FRAMEWORK OF COLLABORATION AND GOVERNANCE FOR UNAIDED PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN UTTAR PRADESH AS PER UN-HRC RESOLUTION” was a two days event, held on 7th and 8th Dec, 2017 at Hotel Lineage, Lucknow, which witnessed more than 50+ attendees from across the country, including education experts and NGOs, Public and Private school representatives, District Education Officers, Parents and Government Officials.
  • The broader vision behind this workshop was to identify ways to govern the Private educational sector by identifying measures to facilitate equitable access and hold these schools accountable to education of acceptable standards. It aimed at formulating a framework in order to develop a set of standards and jurisprudence for private educational institutions.
  • The workshop was intended to initiate a stakeholders’ dialogue on governing private schools with the aim to improve accountability, empower parents and community and maintain operational autonomy.

Impact

  • The workshop discussed prevalent functioning aspects of unaided private schools falling under the Uttar Pradesh education domain.
  • Several recommendations including school establishment, management, recognition, grievance redressal and penalty were suggested too.
  • The event in its last leg shared Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill 2017 with stakeholders and addressed concerns on its opaqueness.
  • Further, clear definition of clauses with their possible amendments and existing provision in other Indian states were also presented to the government.