Like any other pertinent sector in the economical landscape the private school education sector here has a role to play. This sector has been providing employment opportunities to a large section of the educated society. And be it anywhere there is little doubt that the competitive private schooling has been responsible to build an ace human resource for a strong and resilient nation thereby directly contributing towards nation building.
For many years now the said private educational institutions are holding the fort despite many visible odds. Though there are some age old institutions here in the valley which have been pioneers in imparting quality education to its pupils yet the situation has changed since. As population was lesser in the past and these fewer private educational institutions were enough to cater to the needs of the populace.
But not now!
As over the years the population has considerably expanded so did the need for more educational institutions in every nook of the valley. Needless to say, the government institutions alone can arguably never cater to fulfill these emerging needs.
Hence to fill this gulf there always exists a scope for establishment of private educational institutions. Notably everywhere and in all the districts we witness private educational institutions busy delivering the services to the society and building a quality human resource.
Comparatively nowhere have we heard about the dearth of infrastructural facilities in these private institutions despite pressing needs. Pertinently all such private institutions successfully exhibit and showcase wonderful campus life for the pupil. Nowhere have we seen the dearth of basic facilities like toilet blocks, recreational spaces or the laboratory facilities in private schools.
Every expense is incurred out of the scarce financial resources and through overdrafts by these school managements. They have been successfully running this sector over the years and creating a niche for themselves. Now after the Educational Policy of 1986 the New Educational Policy 2020 is in vogue and the government is gearing up to upgrade the statewide educational infrastructure for good.
But how long will it take for the School Education Department to match the services of private institutions here?
Big institutions apart we have relatively numerous smaller educational institutions everywhere contributing their bit. Even at the rudimentary levels the infrastructure at government schools is a distant match for the young parents plus the mismatch in the delivery systems; and an effective teaching-learning system.
While as government run schools can hardly match the facilities at privately run schools, the yearly results and performance appraisals also speak volumes. The quality of education imparted is far better in private schools. The government with all its resources can never fill the existing gulf and can never in foreseeable future cater to the educational needs of the society all alone.
Therefore the role of the private sector is pertinent in every nook of the Kashmir valley. And without private schools we can precisely never imagine a proper functional and impressive educational system. So these private institutions have been doing a commendable job and they will have to keep contributing for the societal upliftment and betterment for all times to come.
More and more edu-preneurs are required to enter the field and contribute with no looking back.But what's the actual scope and the exact scenario and the viability?
While more of our eyeballs are focused only on big banner schools the majority of the private educational institutions hardly manage their financial affairs viably. These schools either are in deep distress financially or have already gone bankrupt for want of sufficient resources.
There are relevant instances where the edu-preneurs struggle to fund the institutions with scarce available resources. Some private school owners have even sold their household assets over the years to fund the school activities. Still many such schools may be on the verge of permanent closure who find it hard to find any commercial benefit.
In the peripherals and in distant rural areas these private schools though doing great social service otherwise, yet find it hard to make these ventures gainful. Kudos to these private institutions where you still find better facilities being provided to the students be it lab facilities, provisions for regular field visits and other campus activities.
Now what the government needs to do to help sustain the private educational institutions here? It's not only about the grievances of certain sections of the parents and the consequent regulatory measures when the government makes itself visible.
Desirably and in order to save the private educational sector here the government needs to frame both the long term and short term policies to infuse institutional credit to the institution owners to make their educational ventures as success stories.
We need to look in a holistic manner to save this sector and understand it's role for development and preparation of youngsters for a future role. Why the government doesn't come with different targetted schemes to aid the smaller educational institutions in peripheral areas especially?
There should be different credit facilities and soft loans available to revive and rebuild those private educational institutions in dire need of handholding. Our private educational sector is an industry itself where there can be many a success stories alongside numerous struggling cases running on the edge with imminent threats of shutdown and closure.
Government has a pertinent role to step in and save such educational institutions for they have a definite role for societal advancement. Therefore what is required is a proper need assessment and an audit of the private educational institutions which operate in very tight financial situations and under a tough regime.
Why can't the government readily come with different capital infusion schemes to help and handhold the needy private institutions as they are doing a commendable job in assisting the state to build a better human capital. When we can time and time again come up with different financial intervention schemes and rebates for the businesses and industrial units and related sectors, why we lack such intervention in the private educational sector where the dearth is more of resources than of will and capabilities.
The government needs to swiftly recognize the importance of the private educational sector here and prioritize credit facilities as a prime lender. This way we can save this sector of utmost social significance from ruin and revolutionize the educational system in the long run. Needless to say that post abrogation of Article 35-A and consequent to the COVID19 lockdowns the hardest sector hit was our private educational sector where a large number of institutions couldn't cope up and were shut down permanently while many are still struggling to recover from the losses.
These private educational institutions are our own. These are our social and community assets whereby we all should take a lead to safeguard, reinvigorate and support them and equally build a positive opinion and perception visa-viz their role in moulding our future.
And on a bigger canvas there should be definite and timely rolling out of government schemes, doles and other facilities to help support the needy educational institutions in all the districts to help sustain this sector.
Let it be the priority sector.
The writer is Gold Medalist in Journalism.