S Madhusudhan, General Secretary, Telangana Recognised Schools Managements Association (TRSMA) says schools are national wealth and the State Government to protect and revive budget schools
Tell us about the state of schools in the state.
The last 16 months have taken a serious toll not just on the students and teachers but on school managements, especially budget schools. Close to 3,000 budget schools in the state are in deep financial trouble. The Government spends close to Rs 2-3 crore to set up a school. The budget schools are the backbone of the education system and it is the duty of the government to revive them.
Majority of the schools have closed down or are on the verge of closing down. Unable to pay the loans including ones taken for the building, buses and other infrastructure, managements are helpless.
What are the demands?
The Government needs to bail out schools. Under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE), traders are given unsecured loans; the same should be extended to budget schools as well. Secondly, property tax and road tax for buses needs to be waived off. School managements who have loans have had to take more loans. The need of the hour is working capital for schools which the government should provide.
What has been the economic fallout due to the pandemic?
It has been tremendous and the schools have been worst affected. Almost 3,000 schools in Telangana have closed down. Teachers lost jobs and started selling vegetables and a few did small-time jobs. The learning loss has been tremendous and a greater majority who could not afford gadgets was left out of the learning process.
The government with its auto-promotion policy resulted in not only fall in standards but parents stopped paying fee. Another fallacy is the facility to allow students to migrate to another school even without a TC. In all this it is the school managements that suffered.
In many cases, correspondents and school owners succumbed due to heart attacks and fall in health. The suicide of the couple Subramaniam and Rohini of Kurnool is still fresh in the mind. In Telangana, Pradeep, 31 year old from Mallapur mandal, Jagtial too committed suicide unable to bear the burden of loans.
The Telangana Govt has announced the reopening of schools from Sep 1. What is the way forward? Should schools reopen with full strength?
The school management should be given the freedom to start schools as per their predicament. For instance, schools can start functioning by calling students on alternate days. They could also have two sessions, morning and afternoon.
What about the loss of days and completion of syllabus?
It would be a good idea to cut short Dussehra and Sankranti holidays and focus on education. Already there are several studies on learning loss. The schools should strictly ensure Covid appropriate behavior and bring back the good old days.