Costly School Education in India
According to an ASSOCHAM survey, the costs of sending a child to school
in India have risen by 160% in the last 8 years. What's more, this figure is exclusive of the tuition fees hiked every now and then.
The survey, done under the aegis of the Social Development Foundation of ASSOCHAM on 'Rising school expenses vis-a-vis dilemma
of young parents' says annual school expenses for a single child excluding tuition fees have risen from Rs 25,000 in 2000 to Rs 65,000 in 2008 while the average annual income of fairly well-off
parents has not risen by more than 30% in the same period. The average tuition fees for a private school is Rs 35,000 per year, with Rs 30,000-35,000 per year as expense for a host of
'overheads'. An estimated 3 crore children in the country study in private schools, says the survey.
The 2,000 working parents across were surveyed across nine cities
— Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Dehradun, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and
Chandigarh—during April and May this year. One in 10 respondents said the cost of schooling did affect the choice of school. These were parents of young enough kids who had the option
of changing schools. Sixty-five per cent respondents said more than
half of their salary was spent on their children's education while 50% conceded schooling was actually a 'strain' on the family budget.
Nearly 60% of parents felt education had become a business and that the high tuition fees did not actually indicate the academic standards of a school. Rather, it indicated a demand-supply function
so that school managements could effect erratic fee hikes every year—something parents can not protest. Even private preparatory schools charge Rs 25,000 a term,
the survey says.
Said a parent with two children studying in a very reputed chain of schools, 'Every year there is a hike. Every few days there is something or the other in school for which I have to cough up more
money.' Transport has emerged as one of the most expensive components of a child's schooling with an average annual cost of Rs 12,000 per child.
Packed lunches cost Rs 9,600 per year per child and shoes cost Rs 4,000-5,000 per year per child.
Even poor families spend 20% of disposable income on private schools and universities, rather than expose their children to 950,000 mostly ill-equipped
and under-staffed government schools. Independent surveys have suggested that
absenteeism by teachers averages 25%, rising to more than 40% in the poorest and least regulated states. Absenteeism by children is also high
– 20% among those aged between 15 and 16.
Recent UNESCO report
According to a recent UNESCO
report families in India have to spend a considerable amount on the primary school education of their children, making the fundamental right to basic education a distant
dream. In contrast, university education remains subsidised and costs just half of the primary school spending.
"Households pay for more than one-quarter, 28 per cent, of the costs to send their children to primary and secondary school. These fees pose a
very real barrier for the children of poor families," said the 'Global Education Digest 2007', released by
UNESCO's Institute for Statistics. "Yet, at the same time, households assume just 14 per cent of the costs for university education, which typically benefits better off students," it added.
Mapping latest education statistics from primary to tertiary levels in more than 200 countries, the
report focuses on the financing of education and provides a series of indicators to compare spending patterns across countries and levels of education.
The report stresses the need to monitor the balance between public and private expenditure. "Systems that are overly reliant on private contributions, especially at the primary level of education, raise the risk of excluding students from poorer families," it warns.
Noting that in a small number of countries the main flow of funding for primary and secondary education comes directly from the government to public institutions, the report says there are exceptions such as India where "a substantial share of the public education budget is channeled to private institutions."
"In India, it is the result of a system by which the government contracts private schools to help meet demand for the schools exceeding public systems," the report said
As for distribution of educational resources in the country, the UNESCO report said that the
distribution of funds was extremely uneven. "In India, this is largely because of low participation rates at the higher levels of education. The majority of children do have access to low cost primary education but are largely excluded from higher levels of education where greater resources per student are invested," it said.
"Equity issues are clearly at play given this uneven distribution of resources," it adds. In the global scenario, the US emerged as the single greatest investor in education with its public education budget being close to the combined budget of all governments in the six regions: the Arab States, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and West Asia and
Sub- Saharan Africa. Nations in sub-Saharan Africa spend only 2.4 per cent of the world's public education resources. But over 15 per cent of the school-age population lives in these countries, according to the report.
Private Education market
Technopak, a Delhi-based investment consultancy, estimates that the current
private- education market is worth $40 billion a year, and that this could roughly triple to $110-120 billion in ten years’ time. The potential is
attracting foreign companies such as Pearson Education (PSO), part of the UK-based publishing group, and McGraw-Hill (MHP), as well as private equity
firms that include Blackstone (BX), New Vernon, and Deutsche Securities, part of Deutsche Bank (DB).
Government regulations, however, restrict what Indian and foreign private-sector
companies can do. For- profit investment in schools and universities is banned,
but it is allowed by charitable trusts, which run some 50,000 schools. Many of
the trusts have been formed by companies that theoretically plough back the profits, though many siphon money into other businesses. One of the largest
companies, the family- controlled Amity University, has 50,000 students across the country.
There are also about 50 for-profit schools, which are allowed to slip through
the controls because they are affiliated with international bodies like the
International Baccalaureate (IB) examination program. Some private-sector groups
run a profit-making IB programs alongside (notionally) Indian-affiliated nonprofit programs.
Real estate companies have also found a way into the country’s education
business by linking up with firms like Educomp (considered to be India’s biggest
education provider) and foreign firms to equip and run charity-registered schools for children of families that buy their homes.
Types of Schools in india
In India, the main types of schools are those controlled by:
The state government boards like SSLC, in which the vast majority of Indian school- children are enrolled,
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) board,
The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) board,
National Open School and "International schools."
These schools mimic the schools in the West in pattern and syllabi and are considerably more expensive than regular schools. The exams conducted have
the syllabus of any one of the above- mentioned Councils or Boards. Overall, according to the latest Government Survey undertaken by NUEPA
(DISE, 2005-6), there are 1,124,033 schools.
Centre plans law to curb unfair practices in schools
A new Bill proposes to clamp down on ‘ unfair practices’ and works such as
huge donations, capitation fees, undisclosed charges and misleading advertisements promising state- of- the- art facilities etc..
The Centre will discuss the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Schools
and Intermediate Colleges Bill, 2011 with state governments at the Central Advisory Board of Education meeting early next month.
The Bill proposes works on the principle of self disclosure — schools will be asked to put up their
prospectus on their websites. This would contain details of the facilities available, broad outlines of the syllabus and other vital
information about the school.