How does it matter if weather is good or not during few days of exams?
Chairman of Coaching Centres Association Kashmir (CCAK) and General Secretary of Private Schools united Forum (PSUF) G N Var says government is choking the existence of private schools even as government schools attain new heights in failure.
Q: How do you see the government decision to restore previous academic session? What are the reasons?
GN Var: In my personal opinion, March session is way better for students. Academic is much needed than exams but government wants good weather for exams and not for the academic session. Maximum number of fair weather months are available for study in March session. How does it matter if weather is good or not during few days of exams? What matters the most is the academic season. We protested against the move but government preferred to go in its own way. Government had earlier hinted that they will continue march session but at the last moment they announced October-November session creating chaos in education sector.
All this has to do with winter vacations. They(govt) announce winter vacations as per the schedule of wives and relatives of some bureaucrats and ministers. These high profile people take their wives and children out of state during winters and our government obliges them by announcing the winter vacations keeping in view their vacation plans.
Q: The issue of registration of Coaching Centers is yet to get resolved. What are the reasons?
Var: Let me tell you very frankly, government has failed to regulate enrollment of students in these coaching centers. Once the role is regulated, the issue will be resolved. We submitted our documents mentioning all available facilities. We are giving free coaching to a section of poor students at private tuition centers as well. The issue is lingering because of the incompetence of education department. Department asks us to get building safety certificate certified from the structural engineer. But the fact is that no structural engineers were available here in past.
Q: Besides coaching centers, a good number of Private schools are operating without proper registration. Why is it so?
Var: The whole mess has been created because of the ineffective policies and irrelevant mechanism in school education department. There is no rational policy for registration of Private schools. Instead of giving permanent registration the existing schools are given two years registration and later proprietors are asked to submit the details again. Permanent registration would do away with the corruption that follows the frequent registration process of schools.
Q: Post floods private schools lost all reputation for overcharging fee from students. Even some schools denied the waiver announced by High Court.
Var: Post floods a petition was filed in Court and private schools were asked to waive off the fee for the month of September and October. Nobody realized that schools were also damaged particularly unaided schools. Teachers were to be given salaries besides the transport charges towards government. All these issues were neglected. No government official was asked to contribute his two month salary and no trader was asked to contribute two months income but schools were forced to contribute two months given their logic that schools minted a lot of money. But the fact is that only 47 schools are of elite class in valley and rest (which is 98 percent) is of economic class. The HC order had an adverse effect on these small schools as well while these elite schools brazenly violated the HC order. We took a stand and asked the government to order for a waiver and small schools should be given relaxation that too in the areas where there was no affect of floods.
Only 10 percent private schools were damaged in Srinagar but no survey was conducted by any government agency till date. We approached revenue department who said that their job was to do survey of residential houses and after we approached Police they said their job was to conduct survey of damaged shops. With the result no survey was conducted so far. As per the government figures around 6 lakh students are studying in private schools and thousands are employed. But they didn’t get a single rupee of compensation.
Q: High court has directed the government to reconstitute school fee fixation committee to fix the fee structure in schools. Do you welcome it?
Var: We welcome it but it should be time bound and not recurring for schools. Before framing committee government should decide whether private school are doing a social service or running an industry. If it is an industry then we will charge good fee, if not then declare us social service and provide us our rightful benefits. As of now schools don’t come under any law. At times they say it is social service and at times they say it is an industry. It is hypocrisy.
Q: You have been vocal about Public Private Partnership. How will it help the education sector?
Var: There should be a public private partnership, as an alternative to revive the system. And accountability should be fixed in it. When a private school teacher can give maximum output in meager wages why can’t a government teacher do so by earning a fat salary. Why can’t they give good output? In the recent meeting I presented this issue in meeting. Under Private Public partnership government should provide trainings to private schools should be given training. Furthermore we can even adopt government schools. All these things can be sorted out when government agrees to our proposal.
Q: You have always opposed the appointment of bureaucrats in the schools education department. Why?
Var: One of the grave issues is that the head of the education department is never an academician but they prefer to give the post in to the hands of an administrator. They should appoint someone from University as BOSE chairman who will do justice with the post and the organization. Same applies for school education department. An educationist or an academician has a vision. They can see in future and correct the present accordingly. The same lacks in a simple administrator. The biggest issue with our education is high dropout rate and lack of quality. An educationist will find creative ways to amend it and not an administrator.