Private schools yesterday and today : Contribution of private schools

Fr Hans Igness SDB (Don Bosco Imphal)
It is a fact today that the private institutions for the past few decades have taken the educational system to a higher level, adopting technology to the benefit of the students. Needless to say, look at the list of past and present entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, politicians, officers, lawyers, academicians, sports and defence personnel, artists, leaders in different fields. Without any exaggeration, almost 90% of them are products of the private institutions across the country and the State.
 Undeniably today the private schools are growing in their performance with every passing day, because of the committed efforts of private proprietors such as missionaries, individuals, agencies, trusts and foundations. They have earned the trust of the masses who rely completely on the private sector for better and quality education. These institutes have led the technological revolution in the field of education, and have effectively made consistent efforts to improve the overall skills of the students.
The private sector has tremendously contributed in educating millions in India. Teaching is better in private schools than in Government run schools, in terms of the presence of teachers with their students in the teaching-learning processes. Teachers’ presence and accompaniment in teaching activity as well as teaching approaches are more likely to lead to improved learning outcomes.
Private school pupils achieve better learning outcomes when compared with State run schools. Perceived better quality of private schools (in terms of teaching, teacher attendance, school performance, discipline) compared with State schools is a key factor in parents’ choice of private schools.
Other important factors cited include English-language instruction, future occupation possibilities and promotion rates to secondary school.
Just like Right to Life, Right to Education has been recognized as one of the most important human rights. However, despite adherence to this law, development of schools, free education,and enrolment of thousands of children, a number of loopholes feature in our education system making it inefficient and feeble.
Private educational institutions have also managed to reach out to the remote corners of the Nation. These institutes do fulfil the needs of society and have reached to the remotest corners of the country, enabling children from these regions to avail education for themselves. With lack of schools and the unavailability of schools with facets – lack of good faculty, proximity of schools, poverty, personal values, divergent thinking etc… our educational system, youth and ultimately the country cannot develop. When the education sector has to be encouraged and supported, the educational institutions to once more cater to the needs of students, it is imperative that Private Schools should be taken into confidence. A sensitive Government and a supportive citizen will be like a soothing balm to the already ‘struggling private schools and the staff’ for their very survival. In such trying times, if private schools are put under the scrutinising microscopic lens of playing the ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the sake of the parents and students, it is one sided and detrimental to the very survival of the institute. It would even amount to ‘biting the hand that feeds’. All what the Private Schools are requesting the Government and the parents-students alike is to treat ‘the Private Schools’ as victims of the pandemic and not as unaffected by the pandemic. If at all, help is given to all sectors, Private Schools are in the ambit of help to be given in the first place, for the very reason that ‘they painstakingly carry out what the Government has failed to do-impart quality education to the citizens’.
What the private schools are pleading for is not for a free package or a ransom, ‘here and now in a platter’ but for a fair win-win solution for the yeoman service rendered during the lockdown. In spite of the lockdown, online classes, (or in places where online classes were just impossible for reasons best known to the place and area) have been improvised by different schools, to help the students, in the best given situation. If Government teachers were given full pay by the Government, why should private teachers be deprived of it ? Why should the burden to pay their teachers fall only on the Private Schools’ management without the fee collection, even to some degree ? Why can’t the people and Government be more magnanimous to the management of the Private Schools ?
 It is not the time to treat one differently and the other ‘more differently’. Private schools are not asking for privileges but only for justice and equal treatment. They are asking for a just law for the schools to carry on their unquantifiable service they have been rendering in the educational sector.