Monday, October 12, 2009

Right to Education

Swaminathan Aiyer writes about the imperfections in the right to education bill – it giving only a right to schooling, not education with a major problem of teacher absenteeism still not solved. A possible solution that has been long recommended – not only in case of education but as a replacement for Public Distribution System – is the introduction of vouchers. With that, any ‘aam aadmi’ can go to any large or small, public or private school for his education, using the coupon to pay the gargantuan fees that schools today charge.
The system of coupon may work in case of PDS where we are dealing with a commodity - a person has to just go to a shop and buy the product. But when it comes to education, the same system can develop flaws. We are talking about a child from a relatively poor background getting admission in a neighborhood, big, private school, all his fees being paid by the government through vouchers.
But what about the associated costs in a school education. Every day in schools, there are demands of funds on pretext of one ‘development’ or the other. Today, it is an art project for which you need to buy some expensive paints, tomorrow it may be some cricket match for which you have to keep in proper gear. There are numerous associated costs of studying in a private school today. Now, will the government vouchers pay for that too? Or will that burden come squarely on the poor soul who was too happy to send his ward to a ‘private’ school.
And what happens to the morale and self confidence of the child, who is bullied by his peers when he is not able to match up to them?

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