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School fee: HC panel bill nears Rs 1cr

Budget Private Schools, Finances & Budgets



Times of India

The high court committee formed to look into complaints of fee hike by private unaided schools in December 2011 has already cost around Rs 1 crore but the excess fee refunded to parents under its orders comes to just Rs 5.8 lakh. Though the committee had ordered more than 100 schools to refund extra fees, only one school has actually paid parents.

The reply to an RTI query filed by lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha shows that till January 2013 the committee had received Rs 97.25 lakh as fees and another Rs 7.36 lakh was paid to a chartered accountancy firm. The Directorate of Education received Rs 1.29 crore from schools for the committee which has been studying financial records of more than 1,100 Delhi schools. The committee’s recommendations?submitted to and accepted by the high court?included refund of fees by 122 schools (one batch of 64 in August, 2012 and another of 58 in March this year).

The impact of the giant exercise is yet to be seen. The reply to Jha’s request for “details of amount refunded to the parents in terms of recommendation of refund of excess fees” states: “One school, namely Maharishi Dayanand Public School, New Moti Nagar, New Delhi, has claimed to have refunded excess fee charged from students”.

The Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee was constituted in December 2011 to look into “how much fee increase was required by each individual recognized unaided school on the implementation of the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission.” While examining the paperwork, the committee also discovered financial irregularities?it recommended inspection of 27 schools in March?and misrepresentation in several.

Of Maharishi Dayanand Public School, the panel’s first interim report states: “In reply to the questionnaire submitted by the school, it is stated that it had neither implemented the 6th Pay Commission Report nor increased the fee in terms of order dated 11.2.2009 issued by the Director of Education. The records…were examined by Ms SunitaNautiyal, Audit Officer of the Committee, and her observations are that…the school has increased tuition fee by Rs 100 per month for all the classes which was the maximum amount permitted to be increased as per the aforesaid order…when the school had admittedly not implemented the 6th Pay Commission Report.”

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Starting self-financed schools in Maharashtra made easier

Budget Private Schools

Puja Pednekar,

Hindustan Times  Mumbai,

July 08, 2013

To make it easier for new schools to begin operations from this academic year itself, governor K Sankaranarayanan approved major changes in the rules for setting up self-financed schools on Wednesday.

The Maharashtra Self financed Schools (Establishment and Regulation) Act, which came into force in January, governs the opening new schools in Maharashtra which will be permanently nonaided.

As of now, 2,417 schools have received approvals under the new Act.

Some stringent provisions of the Act required applicants to meet infrastructure parameters stipulated by the Right to Education Act, 2009 — such as a minimum requirement of a half-acre plot of land in urban areas and an endowment fund of Rs3 to Rs9 lakh — and were considered “unrealistic”.


The schools were also required to submit documents relating to purchase or renting of land, presence of a school building etc. at the time of application.

But now, in case the schools have not yet met one or two parameters, they can still get the approval and meet the requirements after the nod.

Moreover, schools that have less than a half-acre plot will be able to get approval, provided they acquire more land later.

Sarjerao Jadhav, director for education, said, “Schools will now be able to start this academic year, instead of waiting to acquire all the stipulated infrastructure.”

Several associations had complained that meeting these norms before the schools were even given the approval was too strict since the owners would incur huge losses if their proposal was rejected.

“We have relaxed these parameters because they were too stringent for all schools to meet. Schools will be allowed to submit documents related to infrastructure after they receive the approval of the state government,” Jadhav said.

However, some education activists feel the relaxation of rules is a tactic to appease certain politicians.

“Many of the schools backed by politicians were not meeting the infrastructure norms and hence were not given approvals.

These changes have been made so that these schools can start operating,” said an owner who has also opened a selffinanced school.


At 3 lakh, UP faces largest teacher shortage in India

Budget Private Schools

6 May, 2013

Isha Jain

The Economics Times

LUCKNOW: The  Uttar Pradesh government has made English a compulsory subject from Class I onwards, but it has failed to ensure adequate number of trained English teachers in its schools.

According to  Ashok Ganguly, former chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education, only 2-2.5% teachers (primary and secondary) across the state can teach or communicate in English.

The state is already grappling with an acute shortage of teachers, leading to a situation where a science teacher is teaching Hindi and a mathematics teacher is taking social science classes, said Ganguly.

Ganguly said there was an urgent need for UP to get a good cadre of educators who could impart training to primary and secondary teachers. “Classroom teaching needs to be overhauled,” he said. “In district after district, there are hardly teachers who know their subject. None of them can’t teach anything to the children.”

Figures released recently by the Union ministry of human resource development reveal that UP needed three lakh teachers in schools — the maximum in the country. Other states facing a severe shortage of teachers include Bihar (2.60 lakh) and  West Bengal (one lakh).

According to figures put out by the district information system of education, there are about 20% (8.6 lakh) untrained teachers in the country.

UP alone has 1.43 lakh teachers who have not been appointed as per the norms of the National Council for Teachers’ Education ( NCTE), the apex body for matters pertaining to teacher education, training and research.

Criticizing the state for not implementing the 25% quota for children from economically weaker sections in private schools, Ganguly said the schools complained of a funds shortage, although this should be a secondary concern.

“The prime focus must be on education for all,” he said. “There should be a transparent, hassle-free system for reimbursement of fees to the schools.”

A former CBSE chief said that only 2-2.5% of primary and secondary school teachers in Uttar Pradesh can speak English.



Budget –private schools to hold agitation against RTE rules

Budget Private Schools, Right to Education

DELHI: Representatives of at least 5,000 budget-private schools from across the country convened in the Capital to discuss the road forward as most face the threat of closure for not meeting certain criteria set by the Right to Education Act, 2009.

The schools, under the umbrella organisation, National Independent Schools’ Alliance (NISA), are planning to start a nation-wide campaign against “certain rules under the RTE,” NISA national coordinator R C Jain said on Wednesday.
Members said the provisions in the RTE making playgrounds compulsory for all schools is difficult to meet because most budget-private schools operate out of small areas and “do not have enough space for expansion.”

The schools also raised concerns regarding other sections of the RTE Act, issues of capacity-building, and governance with the goal of improving access and quality of education. They argued that people have “chosen” to study in budget-private schools over free education in government schools because “they have more faith in us”.
Jain said the government was also not paying for students who were admitted under the 25 per cent reservation for EWS category. This was “putting additional monetary burden on schools”.

Senior coordinator, Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Shantanu Gupta, said, “Closure looms large for such schools as they cater to families who can only afford to pay a minimal amount as fee for educating their children. “Since these schools cannot increase their fees as parents will not be able to pay anything more than what they do currently, the threat of closure is imminent.”

CCS is helping these schools formulate measures to remain open. “When schools resume session in July, we will hold protests in all state capitals against the rules under the RTE,” Jain said. He said the government is “forcing RTE” on budget schools which were “trying to provide education taking as little money as possible.”
Members said the rule stating that no child would be failed till Class VIII was unfair to the child as well as the educational system as “the will to perform was not encouraged” among students.

Indian Express, 14 June 2012


Low cost private schooling in India: Is it pro poor and equitable?

Budget Private Schools, research, Research

Author: Joanna Harma

ABSTRACT: India has seen an explosion in low-fee private (LFP) schooling aimed at the poorer strata of society, and this once-urban phenomenon has spread in the last decade to rural areas, with implications for equity due to the level of direct costs involved. This study explores whether or not LFP schooling in rural India is pro-poor and equitable, and finds that these schools are unaffordable to the bottom two wealth quintiles of families. This conclusion has implications for policy formation and shows that increased reliance on a market in education will not help to achieve equitable access to primary schooling for all. Click here to read more.

International Journal of Educational Development, January 2011


The story of Shiksha Kendra: RTE shutters schools for poor

Access to education, Budget Private Schools, Private schools, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

With less than a year to go before the deadline for the implementation of the Right to Education Act expires, the practice of running unrecognised schools or running exclusive shifts for children from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) by private schools is about to end.

A case in point: The Delhi Public School’s Ibtida Shiksha Kendra, an unrecognised school run by DPS Mathura Road exclusively for children from EWS, most of them first-generation learners and children of daily wage labourers.

Started in 2001, 300-odd students attend the school between 12 noon and 5 pm at the junior school premises. The school even has a separate staff comprising 22 teachers. It doesn’t teach the CBSE syllabus, but uses textbooks prescribed by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).

Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
So what happens to the 300 students and staff now that the school is faced with imminent closure? Teaching staff, some of whom have been working in the school since 2001, have been terminated overnight.

Says Rakhi Yadav, a teacher employed by the school since 2001, “Even now, we don’t know when the school will be shut down. On 30 April, three teachers were handed termination letters saying that our services would no longer be required. We have not been given any notice.”

Is it fair that students and the staff find themselves out of school and out of a job for no fault of theirs?

Ashok Aggarwal, lawyer and child rights activist who has been at the forefront of the Right to Education campaign especially in the interest of children from EWS, makes the point that education in unrecognised schools has no validity in the first place.

Speaking in the context of the DPS Shiksha Kendra, he said, “It is an illegal school that they were running in the hope that the government would one day recognise them. Already, government policy is that there will be no double shifts. What DPS Mathura is running is not even a double shift, it is not a regular school. It is akin to an NGO running a school in a basti, there is certification. It has no validity. The basic principle is to mainstream. It is not desirable to run exclusive classes for children from EWS.”

He adds, “But if a poor person is given an opportunity to have his children study inside a school building, it appears to him to be a great thing. That is a fact. But it is important to ensure that children are going to the right school, one that is certified.”

Parents, insists Aggarwal, need not panic. Under the RTE Act, the government has an obligation to absorb the students into education system.

“A school that is not unrecognised has no right to run. And when it is closed, the government is under obligation to admit them in nearby government schools.”

The formalities to facilitate the admission of students in government schools has been completed, says MI Hussain, the principal of DPS Mathura Road.

“It is a known fact that we are not recognised by the government, despite our best efforts. We have approached the Delhi government to make seats available for our students in the nearby government schools. They have asked for formalities to be completed, which we have done. We are not keen that our centre be closed down, but as per RTE Act, all evening schools and other centres of education that are not recognised will be closed down within three years of the Act coming into force.”

While students have been assured of admission in government schools, the hopes of teachers of being regularised have been dashed. “First of all, it was not a school. It was a centre, a kendra. It was supported by voluntary, people who were ready to come forward and work as volunteers. Nothing was hidden from them. When number of students reduce, teachers will be reduced,” says Hussain.

But why did the government refuse to recognise the school? According to Hussain, “The land was not allotted for other schools or kendras, it is only for DPS Mathura Road school for which the lease deed is there.”

The sudden announcement of the school’s closure has caused a lot of apprehension and uncertainty among students, parents and teachers. Seventeen-year-old Imran, who has been a student at the school since he was six years old, says: “If I knew this would be my plight, I would have joined a government school instead. I am not sure if my certificate will have any value. When we told our teachers that we want to appear for the CBSE board exam, they told us we won’t be able to cope with it. How are they so sure?” Imran appeared for the Open school exam this year.

So will DPS Mathura be willing to absorb students from the shiksha kendra? Hussain points out, as per RTE provisions, “Students from the EWS will be admitted at the entry level, which is nursery. So how can these people be accommodated? At the entry level, however, children are coming from neighbourhood. In the NCR, our school has the largest number of children from EWS.”

First Post India, 14 May 2012


1,800 schools under KUSMA to defy RTE

Budget Private Schools, Private schools, Right to Education

The Karnataka Unaided Schools’ Management Association (KUSMA) has said that all the 1,800 schools coming under it will defy the Right To Education (RTE) Act.

Noting that the State government had failed to define a ‘minority institution,’ the KUSMA office-bearers and their legal advisor on Monday said that the Association had decided to ‘face the consequences’ and not implement the RTE this academic year.

“With the State government not providing any clarity on the definition of a minority institution, we will be unable to implement the RTE this year,” said G S Sharma, KUSMA president .

Citing a letter dated April 30, 18 days after the Supreme Court verdict on enforcing RTE in private unaided institutions, dispatched to the State government, KUSMA said there was no concrete response to the Association’s plea for clarity on the ‘minority’ status.

Most institutions under KUSMA may use this as an excuse to avoid the implementation of the 25 per cent quota for children from underprivileged families under RTE.

K V Dhananjay, the legal advisor to the Association, said there were many instances of member schools being denied the ‘minority’ status arbitrarily by the government.

“A particular school which had converted Christians on the board of directors was denied minority status, because the Education Department said there is no recognition to converted Christians,” he said. However, the legal advisor said the Association had no figures as to how many schools under KUSMA could get the ‘minority’ tag.


Reacting to KUSMA’s decision, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education,
Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri, said: “We will proceed with the implementation of RTE by taking into consideration KUSMA’s concerns. We will definitely implement it this year in all schools.”

Meanwhile, Secretary to the Department, Kumar Naik, said lack of clarity on the definition of ‘minority institution’ was not a valid excuse for not implementing RTE.

“If the Association has concerns over the definition of minority status, they are free to approach the court. It is not a valid reason for not implementing RTE,” he said.

Deccan Herald, 14 May 2012


Making lemonade from lemons – The RTE edition

Access to education, Autonomy, Budget Private Schools, Right to Education

Education consultant Lawrence Uzzell had pointed out that school reformers throughout the world can be broadly grouped into two groups – neo-pluralists and neo-centralists. The neo-pluralists believe in allowing various pedagogies, teacher arrangements, profit- and non-profit governance models, and different social contexts for the children. The neo-centralists, on the other hand, push for the homogenizing of schooling in the name of socio-economic solidarity and prioritize the state’s preferences over that of the parents and the child. The neo-pluralists, who we have sympathy for, are not against prudential regulations or subsidies – indeed, many of them support scholarships or vouchers for the children from disadvantaged sections of society to study at private schools.

Unfortunately, the Right to Education (RTE) Act has been successfully pushed by the neo-centralists in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the National Advisory Council (NAC). The Supreme Court of India has upheld the law, declaring the reservation of 25% of admissions in private unaided schools for underprivileged classes and castes to be constitutional. In other words, RTE is here to stay, and economic liberals must, just like with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or the Food Security Bill, reform from within.

Yet, many think that most opposition to the RTE Act stems not from any philosophical or economic angle, but from an elitist bias because of which well-to-do parents do not want their children to study with children from poorer families. This could of course be true in many cases although some commentators have also written about the mixed psychological effects on poor children of growing up along children from much richer households. But the supporters who cite the Western common school systems as examples of social egalitarianism and integration should know that they are actually referring to governmental schools in the West, and hat in many countries like the United States, private schools are allowed to run without quotas.
Liberals do not oppose RTE based on prejudice; they oppose it primarily because of its focus on centralized statism. RTE is first and foremost against private property and free association. The question is should individuals in an ostensibly free country be allowed to select unaided schools for their children, even if based on apparent class prejudice? Should Rabindranath Tagore not have been allowed to start Patha Bhawan in 1901 with just five students? Should he really have been asked to have labs, playgrounds and the right socio-economic demographics in his new school?

Yet, the liberty argument against centralization does not cut ice with some, so let us consider more pragmatic arguments. Economist Bibek Debroy had succinctly summarized his opposition to RTE in The Indian Express. “58% of enrolment in urban India is in private schools and the figure is 32% in rural India…The RTE imposes high compliance costs on budget private schools and drives them out. It thus hinders, rather than furthers, the cause of school education”. Indeed, most schools in the country are not RTE-compliant as of now (simply in terms of infrastructure, not admission policies).

As Kartik Misra, a researcher at the Center of Civil Society (CCS), notes that in the three parts of Delhi state he studied, the fees at various low budget private school would have to increase from the current Rs. 295-370 per month to anywhere between Rs. 1040-1612 if all the RTE regulations were to be followed. Many such schools of course could not expand to get the requisite playgrounds etc, because there is simply no land around. Such budget private schools have been observed by James Tooley in Hyderabad and Delhi (as written in his book The Beautiful Tree) and by us in Rajasthan and Kolkata. Indeed, Tooley noted that Delhi’s unrecognized private schools had significantly smaller classes, higher average math raw scores, and lower per-pupil teacher cost than government schools! This is not a surprise to anyone who understands incentives – in private schools there is accountability, whenever the government comes in we just have sinecure jobs.

Most of the fee increases and “crowding out” of low-cost private schools would be because of a forced increase of teacher salaries, and to a lesser extent by newer infrastructure. This is a clear bid by the government teacher unions to prevent the bifurcation of the teacher union movement into government and private ones. Apparently, having a B. Ed. is no longer enough for a teacher in an officially recognized school to teach – which is another implicit admission of government-provided education’s failures as the state now tries to increasingly control the salaries, fees and admissions in private schools.

While the RTE would force the low-cost schools to either close shop or pay more bribes, the super-elite in the country is even more likely to defect abroad – starting with high school now, instead of university. But why should we then allow rich Indians to send their kids to Raffles, Andover or Harrow for schooling? Should the government not detain them at airports? Of course not, that would be wrong. Yet, within the country we must push for social engineering, say RTE proponents.

But why then does the RTE not apply equally to state-funded madrassas? It is sad to note that while the Supreme Court had exempted the unaided “minority” schools – religious and linguistic – from RTE while unfairly regulating the unaided non-minority ones, the Parliament has gone ahead one step and also exempted some of the aided minority schools (mostly in the religious category, it seems). That is, if state-enforced norms are good for one community, why not for the other – and if it is too homogenizing for one, then why not for the other? Clearly, where integration was perhaps most needed – the government has predictably blinked.

Yet, this is where the lemon starts potentially looking like a lemonade. The Rajya Sabha, when it partially exempted Muslim religious school from RTE, also exempted some “Vedic Schools” to not appear blatantly pseudo-secular. It is unclear to us at this point if, and to what extent, would this also include schools run by the Ramakrishna Mission and various Sangh schools like the Shishu Mandirs. Therefore, instead of attacking the conservative Muslims and their appeasers in the Congress party, the Hindu right would be better off exploiting this opening. Already, to take an example, Jain minority institutes have been useful for Hindus in some states to escape government over-regulation of education. A sustained legal and political movement should single-mindedly aim to de facto liberate many more private unaided schools by increasing their minority quotient in terms of religion, language or any other factor that would serve the purpose.

As American libertarian Grover Norquist writes in his book Leave Us Alone, “The (center-right) coalition also includes those Americans whose central concern is practicing their religion and raising their children in that same faith…This confuses the heck out of the establishment press that cannot understand how evangelical Protestants, conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Mormons can all cheerfully be in the same political movement. Shouldn’t they be fighting each other? …They don’t have to. They realize that if they are to practice their faith their way they need to stand politically with others of different faith who want the same freedom… Over the years the aggressively secular left has created a more ecumenical right” Another author Paul Weyrich noted that “This was the nexus between social conservatism and opposition to big government”.

The second lemon-to-lemonade possibility is within the reimbursements promised by the government for the 25 percent of reserved seats in private schools. If the refunds – which are to be linked to average per-student government costs – are higher than the school’s fees, we already have a de facto voucher program! This is what Swaminathan Aiyar had already noticed, but the problem was that for most elite private schools, this government transfer would still be a pittance. For the budget schools on the other, this could be a windfall – except that most of them are not recognized, and after RTE’s requirements of high salaries and full playgrounds, even fewer are likely to satisfy the regulatory requirements.

This is where Gujarat’s recent game-changer comes in, as documented by Parth Shah of the Centre for Civil Society. School recognition in that state will now be contingent on more sensible factors: Learning outcomes (absolute levels of student learning, and improvement compared to past performance) – 70 % weight; Inputs (including facilities, teacher qualifications) – 15% weight; Non-academic outcomes and parent feedback – 15% weight. Under this formula, most budget schools are likely to become recognized, and hence eligible for RTE’s “eminent domain” – but with a compensation very favorable to them. Look out for better educational results, more empty government schools (and better bang for the buck for taxpayers) if this remarkable model is replicated by other states.

Indeed, concentration on outlays and not outcomes has been the bane of most Indian public policy – the vast portion of government schooling expenditure in India has been on the salaries of the teachers and administration. Unions have been “the biggest barrier” to reform, according to Abhijit Banerjee, an economist at MIT. Therefore, today it is increasingly true what Pranab Bardhan had noted in a larger context that “the left, while talking about the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat, has given us instead the dictatorship of the salariat’”. Government teachers, like most Indian public servants, have no incentive to perform because of job security and lack of performance pay.

Today when social entrepreneurship is the new buzzword, would not for-profit school be amongst the best examples of that? Indeed, profit would allow schools to legally scale up. As movies like Taare Zameen Par and Three Idiots have documented at a popular culture level – our education system need a huge infusion of innovation. Unfortunately, centralized statist systems are rarely innovative. Moreover as the Internet change our entire lives, our education system continues to be almost exactly the same as it was pre-Independence.

Poor parents also have voted with their small pockets and have said no to a “free” government option, because they know that private schools give a better education. We all agree that quality schooling should be available to one and all, then why only subsidize government-run schools? We should have choice and competition. We should fund students, not schools. Once we subsidize more private schools, albeit indirectly through students – even more new schools will be created. While primary school enrollment has increased, studies by Pratham and PISA show that quality still remains extremely dismal. Already, good work is being done by NGOs like Pratigya in Jharkhand – they follow the voucher model and support students to attend budget schools, instead of starting schools or donating to them. Similarly, dramatically more educational spending by Delhi is not fiscally possible, and repealing RTE is not politically feasible. Therefore, we must now push for as many exemptions as possible within the RTE, while getting more budget schools recognized for reimbursements.

Livemint, 02 May 2012


How the RTE can make the Budget performing Schools extinct

Budget Private Schools, Finances & Budgets, Licenses and Regulations, Right to Education

The Right to Education Act (RTE) which came to effect on the 1st of April 2010 provides a rich laboratory for those wishing to study the unintended consequences of affirmative action in social choice literature. The government has promised free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14.

The public education system suffers from systemic problems which breed a culture of low learning outcomes. This is why many parents have opted for private provisions for education at a low and affordable cost. In light of this choice by parents we have seen a mushrooming of budget private schools all over the country. However, the RTE changes the equation considerably. The provisions for recognition of private schools under Section 19 of the Act imposes severe infrastructural regulations on private schools and also places market distorting price floors on teacher’s salaries. Standard economic theory would predict that such regulations adversely impact efficiency and wages thus decided, do not reflect market clearing levels.

These provisions work to destroy the comparative advantage of budget private schools which historically lay in their capacity to efficiently utilize locally available resources and cheap human capital to provide quality education to thousands of children. The RTE takes away the cost advantage these schools maintained by hiring dedicated teachers from the local community and using effective on the job training and monitoring.

This blog uses a research study conducted in Delhi by me for The Centre for Civil Society to estimate the cost incurred by budget private schools in complying with the RTE norms which has two components. First, the capital expenditure component which includes specific dimensions of classrooms, playgrounds, library, separate toilets for boys and girls and even specifies the number of these toilets based on the number of students enrolled. Second, the variable monthly component which comprises of monthly variable expenditure based on increases in teacher’s salary and an increase in the number of teachers hired as a result of the stipulated teacher-pupil ratio. In order to break even on his investment the owner will be forced to pass the burden of this expenditure to students by increasing the fee charged. This concept is used to estimate the increase in the per-child fee if these improvements were to be undertaken.

The data from the aforementioned research is used to assess the consequences of these norms on the budget performing schools which aims to provide access to education for all children.

The key findings of the study are summarised below

• The average increase in fee charged if RTE norms were followed in the Chauhan Bangar (urban), Karawal Nagar (peri-urban) and Libaspur (rural) areas of Delhi surveyed was 394.17%, 533.62% and 352.49% respectively, using the most conservative estimates costs based on government determined circle rates for property and construction costs. The corresponding figures at market rates were 775.95%, 1044.06% and 2458.79% respectively.
• The change in absolute terms corresponds to fee increases from 370 INR, 302 INR and 295 INR in the three areas is INR 1458.43, INR 1611.53 and INR 1039.85 respectively using the most conservative estimates. The corresponding figures at market rates are 2871.02 INR, 3153.06 INR and 7253.43 INR respectively.
• The monthly variable component of the expenditure namely teacher’s salary according to the RTE regulations, alone accounted for increase for around 100% of the present fee in all three areas.
• Hardly any school owner could undertake these improvements without financial help as their capital base is very thin and they do not have access to bank loans and other sources of finance.
• Parents who send their children to school often struggle to pay the school fee thus any substantial increase in the fee would drive these parents outside the ambit of quality education.
• However, it must be mentioned that in most cases it is physically impossible to undertake the improvements stipulated by the RTE as there is no open space available for school playgrounds and adequately sized classrooms. All area in the neighbourhood has been divided and sub-divided into plots for housing purposes.

These results should be viewed in conjunction with the fact that the average monthly fee charged in the urban, peri-urban and rural areas under study was 370 INR, 302 INR and 295 INR respectively. However, if these schools were to undertake RTE improvements and pass on the burden to the students, the fees are likely to inflate by many times their present levels as already mentioned. This would deny access to most poor parents who can presently afford private education. In such a scenario when a school undertakes these improvements not only does it cease to be a budget private school, it also ceases to cater to the poorest of the poor. A direct outcome of the same would be to push these poor people outside the ambit of quality education or to force them to turn towards public schools. However, these parents had already rejected the option of public schools as they view these as adding little value to their child’s development and learning. Thus it is more probable that many such parents opt out of the education system as a consequence as they cannot (any further) afford the education they value (private schools) and they do not value the education they can afford (government schools)

The functioning of budget private schools comes as close to a pure market transaction as possible. However, the RTE distorts this transaction. As with several other government interventions, it creates dead-weight loses, produces by-products which people do not value (fancy playgrounds and highly paid teachers) and more importantly pushes some consumers out of the market by artificially raising the price of the product (fee) above the market clearing levels. This framework summarises the case of RTE infrastructure norms and its counterproductive impact of reducing access to education for thousands of poor parents. Thus in reality the RTE denies the poor citizens of this country to chose for their children the education they have reason to value.

At a recently held workshop by RTE forum in Delhi, it was quoted that only 5% of all the schools in India (Govt. + pvt.) follow all the RTE norms. All the infrastructure regulations are only applicable on the private unaided schools. As you are reading this blog, more than 20% government schools in Hyderabad are being run in rented building with no proper rooms, let alone the playground.

On one hand these regulations are not applicable on government schools, and children in government schools are still studying in rented buildings and on the other hand, private schools are burdened with these unfounded regulations. It might be a political masterstroke to eradicate the greatest competition to the government schools leaving parents with no alternative. Whatever happened to the doctrine of increasing competition and choice!!

Kartik Misra, School Choice Campaign, 18 April 2012

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India education: The chain school

Access to education, Budget Private Schools, Private schools, Quality

NEW DELHI, India — In a typical Delhi slum, sewage overflows from the drain alongside the street and scraps of colored paper and empty bottles tumble in the foul wind. Here and there, a spindly boy in threadbare briefs fetches water from the hand-pump and a baby, her eyes blacked with kohl, plays happily in the grime.

It’s not an easy place to live. But even here, Ramesh Singh, a bicycle rickshaw driver, opted to send his son, Dhiraj, to a bare-bones private school when a pilot program for school vouchers gave him the chance several years ago.

“You saw when the teacher tested him,” Ramesh said. “He finished class three in government school, and he can’t read anything!”

Read more: India gets kids to school but fails to teach

Rich or poor, Indians are abandoning the country’s disastrously managed government-run schools in droves. Only about two-thirds of India’s school-age children attend classes at all, and the fierce competition for places at private institutes means that waiting lists are enormous and it’s difficult to win admission to any without pulling strings.

More discouraging still, because of its demographics India will need to build another 250,000 schools to meet its goal of universal enrollment by 2015. But that means there’s a big opportunity, as well, some investors believe: India could well be the first country in the modern world where the business of educating kids from kindergarten through high school is, well, a business. Meet the would-be chain store of education: the Indus World School (IWS).

The school that Ramesh chose for Dhiraj, called R.S. Public School in homage to the legacy of Eton and Harrow, was not part of IWS or any other big corporation. When I visited the place, the paint was crumbling off the concrete walls. Its barred windows give it an aspect more penal than pedantic, and the children in the courtyard were forced to squint and shield their eyes against a fine grit whipped across the compound by the wind.

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Still, at $6 a month, it cost less than the voucher that Ramesh received as part of a pilot program run by the Center for Civil Society, and the teachers actually showed up for work. Corporation-run chain schools would institute higher standards — perhaps even pioneering the franchise model in education.

“India needs entrepreneurs and organizations who are willing to build a scalable execution model of schools,” said Satya Narayanan, chairman of Career Launcher. “In terms of numbers, these could translate into a chain of hundreds of schools over a five to seven year period.”

With 14 schools in operation, mostly in second-tier cities but also including five rural schools, Indus World School has made a good start.

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Earlier this year, the company secured second round financing from Gaja Capital Partners and sold an additional, undisclosed stake to Housing Development Finance Corp. for around $10 million — suggesting that the snowball is beginning to roll downhill. According to Narayanan, IWS hopes to operate 75 schools with over 40,000 students in five years time, which could pave the way for a wave of followers.

According to the entrepreneur, at least a dozen of India’s large corporations are discussing similar ventures or investments. But the blue ocean market — 250,000 schools! — means he won’t need to worry much about competition for bodies.

Nevertheless, Narayanan aims to make sure innovation isn’t limited to the business model.

The company is steadily developing its own intellectual property for the curriculum, with a focus on age-appropriate linkages to career aspirations and higher education goals — music to the ears of middle-class Indian parents.

And the connection with Career Launcher — a test prep and college admissions advisory company that serves 100,000 from 225 outlets — ensures that IWS understands its target customers and their goals.

Can for-profit chain schools really step in where the state has failed — especially for students like Dhiraj Singh, whose parents can’t afford to pay more than a pittance?

Studies of tiny, grassroots private schools and school vouchers suggest that the answer may be yes. So far IWS, like most elite Indian schools, offers scholarships for only a few hundred students. But the gathering momentum of the country’s recently passed Right to Education law (RTE) could free up funds for private players.

“The RTE needs to be given an operating framework from the current ‘intent’ state,” said Narayanan. “We can contribute immensely to [uplifting the poor] in just a generation if we can implement RTE smartly!”

Global post, 24 October 2012

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