Privatization of Education in India

What is Privatization?

Privatization refers to a mode of doing things of his own without any control of the Government. This practice may be at an individual level or at organizational level. Once has freedom to do a task or perform an activity for material development or otherwise. When Govt. takes over the control of an organization, industry or company in a commercial sector or service sector like education, freedom of function is restricted. Hence it leads to retardation or slowing down the process of development activity. In case of education, privatization in higher education can be one alternative since it needs huge funds for developing physical infrastructure and conducting basic researches.

In defining privatization the relation between sources of funding and forms of provisions are generally considered. In fact, privatization involves moves from publicly funded and provided services to services that are funded privately, provided privately, or both. Some times a more sophisticated model for privatization is elaborated. It involves differentiating between situations in which decisions about services are made by public institutions (such as the introduction of user charges for government schools) and situations in which decisions are made privately (such as providing parents with vouchers allowing them to choose schooling from a range of providers). However, this framework is limited by considering only deliberate acts by the government agencies. Privatization in education must be seen in a wider context.

Privatization of Education

Mukesh Ambani and Kumarmangalam Birla submitted to Indian prime minister their report on reforms in education in April 2000. At a conference organized by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust in August 2001, Professor K. N. Panikkar cited the report and and brought in to light the grand plan to privatize education. The report stresses that ‘primary education should be made compulsory and free. Secondary education should be compulsory as well. There is no getting away from enforcing the constitutional commitment to compulsory education for children up to the age of 14 years. …Government must focus strongly on literacy, primary and secondary education.’ They called for the Government of India to ‘provide and support the private sector in the establishment of high quality secondary education in every taluka’, stating also that ‘there is a case for free secondary education’ as stated in the Prime Minister’s Council for Trade and Industry, 2000, summary. It states: ‘Private financing should be encouraged either to fund private institutions or to supplement the income of publicly funded institutions…There are basically three mutually reinforcing methods that could overcome some of the problems in financing education. The first method is to recover the public cost of higher education and reallocate government spending on education towards the level with the highest social returns i.e., in primary education. The second method is to develop a credit market for education, together with selective scholarships, especially in higher education. The third method is to decentralize the management of public education and encourage the expansion of private and community supported schools.’

The issues raised by the report were not properly discussed in the public sphere. Much of the public debates have little relation to what was happening in the schools and colleges away from the metropolitan centers. Privatization of education indeed is a major issue for parents, children and teachers. In view of the fact that the Govt. has a constitutional responsibility to provide for free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 14, it is difficult to visualize a situation, in which this sector will be handed over to private sector, it is only in the case of secondary and higher education that privatization can be considered.

Even for Secondary and Sr. Secondary education Govt. should assume the responsibility to provide education in a democratic country like ours with a view to lay a strong base for democratic process to function. Therefore elementary, secondary and Sr. secondary education should be the state responsibility till the time comes when we are very well established economically and politically.

Why Privatization of Higher Education?

  • Privatization will enhance efficiency of the system when the Govt. boys academic services from producers or subsidizes students to buy them.
  • Private sector has the potential and capability to take responsibility for higher education.
  • Industry and other professional organizations will have mutual benefits. Higher education will have financial support from industry and industry will have manpower as per their requirement.
  • The Govt. will be relived of its burden.
  • It is claimed that higher education enhances the earning capabilities of the students and therefore, it is unnecessary for the Govt. to subsidize higher education.

In India private bodies have made significant contribution to the development of education as well as higher education. They have also financed and maintained institutions of high standards and attracted and retained renowned teachers motivated by a keen desire to serve the cause of education. Most of there bodies are motivated by idealistic, service and professional considerations. Definitely we should identify the initiatives originated from the cultural soil of this country. They can be more endurable and withstand the competitive climate in the world.

Further we should also consider the fact that both public and private sector in respect of higher education cannot be put into watertight compartments. A private institution may be receiving substantial funds from the Govt. while a public, institution may be generating large resources of its own for its sustenance. Therefore both the situations can be workable. But in order to enhance the productivity of higher education privatization have strong capability can be tried and monitored by certain agencies in the natural interest.

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