The Right to Education Act, passed last year, intends to universalize primary education. But it could instead make that aim impossible to achieve.
Kapil Sibal, the Union human resource development minister, noted over the weekend that the implementation of the Act, come April, could hurt small private schools. The Act requires schools to obtain state recognition that could force them to pay higher government salaries to their teachers. What’s more, mandates on the exact size of the playground or qualification for teachers probably mean doling out more bribes.
These schools, which get by with charging only around Rs100 a month, will either increase their prices manifold or shut down.
If small private schools are squeezed, the only other game in town is government ones. If parents move their kids there, the government will be forced to spend more; but with already thin public finances, it won’t be long before this is compromised on. And it’s the poor, who left these government schools in the first place, who will be worse off.