The excerpt below is something I have been thinking about for a long time now and thought would dot down my thoughts and understanding.

This was not an overnight realization that our govt has failed in terms of boosting educational infrastructure, and the alternative steps that they are taking merely reflect their incompetence. During the lockdown period, a burst of news reports had informed us that several public sector undertakings would be put on the block for privatization. Talking about the pros and cons of privatization goes a long way. But here today, I would like to highlight a very basic concept of this whole process through a raw example. In simpler terms, privatization is a policy through which governments avoid their responsibility and allow private individuals
and institutions to execute things and do the job for money. In this line, what needs to be noted is the phrase “abdication of responsibility.”

Education is a service that every welfare democracy is obliged to give in the most accessible form. But in some states, the government has announced encouraging private sector investment in education in its plans and programs. In contemporary times, many liberal democratic countries worldwide are also increasingly trying to privatize this basic service. Apart from contradicting the constitution’s right to free education, privatization has many negative impacts.

But in this article, I don’t mean to focus on the effects but rather highlight some real drawbacks in the entire system and provide a solution to that through an example. For the longest period now, in a state like India, we have seen that the performance of the vernacular language schools run by the government, especially in the cities, is deteriorating day by day. But some 40-50 years earlier situation was different. People attended government  school and turned out fine. People from that era are still in some high level posts doing wonders. But now (due to circumstantial changes), the scenario is not the same. The parents prefer sending their children to a private institute for their early education. It is believed that every good service comes with a price (which cannot be denied completely), but  “government education is free.” We see parents struggling to get their children admitted into a private institute even if it costs them a fortune. Hence there lies is a big question mark in front of our entire system.

During the lockdown, a program was organized as Protidin Pathshala by electronic media PRATIDIN TIME. Teachers from different institutes, private and government schools were invited to take classes, such that students are not lagging and can acquire knowledge from the comfort of their homes. The program was such a marvelous one, and the teachers taught with such enthusiasm that sometimes even I would watch the program in deep appreciation. I would find myself in awe, watching the teachers impeccably deliver the
concepts. Some of the teachers are faculties of government schools. It didn’t surprise me that they are so well skilled in their profession, but I was surprised why government schools are still the least sought after when it comes to early education. Teachers employed in
government schools pass through a series of exams to get the job and are required to be  sufficiently qualified. They are provided with a decent salary, much more than any teachers from private schools are paid. Lack of leadership coupled with corruption and poor
governance are some of the causes for the destruction of government schools in the state and India. Many Government-run services seem to have let complacency seep in, impacting their performance. When people are getting a salary, it is the role of the payee to see that the
employees are putting in their maximum. But the power of strengthening government schools lies in the hands of the parents equally, if not more so than with the government and the faculties. It is to be noted that getting their children admitted into a government institute has not been the priority for most parents in our state.

In this context, there is a lot that Assam needs to learn from one of our neighboring country Bhutan. Bhutan has achieved marked educational success in the last decade by implementing  a few well-known ideas in education. There is also a realization that `quality schooling for all’ cannot be achieved merely through the improvements in schooling such as providing better school infrastructure, having better-qualified teachers, or making the curriculum attractive to the students. There may be an equally, if not more, important need for demand measures, which encourage parents to use schools to enroll their children and retain them through it and ensure that the children learn at school. Compared to teachers in government schools in Assam and elsewhere, the average quality of teachers in the government schools in Bhutan is far better. It is possible that in Bhutan, relatively good students opt for school teachers’ jobs, which is also not the case in India currently. School teacher’s job is still not sought-after and because of that is not looked upon by the Indian Society. The first step in the education reform in a developing country( as per the Bhutanese government) is to ensure a hundred percent enrolment of children. Most of them remain in school until the completion of a level of education. This has been achieved by several other countries too, and I feel that the Assam government should also take up such reformative ideas. There has been a much greater focus on government schools in Bhutan, not only by the government but also among the parents. Unlike here in Assam, there is no notable migration of children from middle- class families to private schools. Except for a few good-quality private schools in the capital, the rest are considered an inferior option by the parents who believe that the facilities and quality of teachers are relatively better in government schools. The fact that private schools are costly and that government schools have adequate facilities, the teachers encourage a number of children from relatively less affluent backgrounds to join these schools for higher education.

Influence can change trends! It cannot be denied that the standard of an institute is governed by the students studying there. Only when people are willing to send their children will teachers be encouraged to teach. But people cannot be forced; hence, the government can
take up certain policies to provide increment to government employees who admit their children into government schools and complete the primary and high school from there. Only then priorities and perspectives of people will change. We need to remember that government equity in any of their run business is nothing but capital invested by India’s taxpayers — it is incumbent on the government to ensure maximum value for the investment made. Authorities must try to make the system effective. Privatization of education or any other basic services will harm all class of consumers. Education should not be a luxury; it should be a basic right. Strengthening government schools is one of the first steps towards making a progressive state with strong youth.

-Mrigakshee Goswami