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PONDER: The fall of aided private schools

The Delhi School Education Act, 1973 was enacted to improve school education in Delhi but the reverse has happened. They have been reduced to being toothless tigers

-S K Bhattacharya

Prior to the Delhi School Education Act, 1973 the best schools were mainly aided private schools such as Harcourt Butler, Lady Irwin, Queen Mary, DAV, Ramjas Schools, Raisina, Union Academy, Happy School, Commercial School. These schools were known for their quality and good management during the period of early fifties to seventies. Fostering merit holders in large numbers with each passing year, these schools attracted the children of affluent families for higher secondary education.

Those children obtained their early education from private unaided schools like Modern, St. Columbus and St. Xavier’s and parents had tremendous faith in these schools due to their dedicated teachers, personal attention and opportunities for holistic education.

Technically, most of them exist but are struggling for their identity. It is alarming and equally disappointing to witness the sharp decline of such great institutions.

Today, the number of private schools in Delhi is almost surpassing the total number of government schools.

Earlier, these aided private schools used to enjoy a lot of autonomy. The school managing committee commanded a lot of respect from the public. Social activists, philanthropists and educationists were at the helm of affairs of the management of these schools and their contributions were of great value. The teaching staff was hardworking, committed and loyal to the management. After the enactment of DSEAR 1973, managing committees of aided schools lost all powers. They became toothless tigers. The functionaries have lost all interest in the school management as they have practically no say in managing schools.

Every power has been transferred to the government and on the other hand government is not responding as required. Apart from providing financial aid, there is no positive support to the aided schools. As a result, after losing all their autonomy these schools are struggling for their identity and existence.

// During the post-independence period, Delhi witnessed a huge influx of population from Punjab. This situation resulted in demand to provide education to children, especially refugees from Punjab, and other parts of Pakistan. //

Before independence, schools in Delhi were mostly managed by the societies, trusts and groups of individuals. During the post-independence period,Delhi witnessed a huge influx of population from Punjab. This situation resulted in demand to provide education to children, especially refugees from Punjab, and other parts of Pakistan. Government decided to open government schools as a solution to meet the rising demand of educational institutions.

Today, there are a large number of government schools in Delhi. Their main objective is to provide compulsory elementary education to the children of the age group 6 to14 years. As per the constitutional provision to provide elementary education to children, government schools are obliged and hence handicapped to raise the bar of education. They are catering mostly, to the children from weaker section. Their family background is weak-socially, economically and culturally.

The quality of education which is expected from the government schools is not available because of various factors. People from the middle and intellectual class want to give best education to their children and prefer to send their children to the Private Schools.

Private schools enjoy a number of advantages:

  1. The Management enjoys more power and autonomy
  1. Quality is the hallmark of private Schools
  1. Close monitoring and accountability

After 1973, with fall of private aided schools, Delhi witnessed rapid growth of private schools generally known as public schools. Today, the number of private schools in Delhi is almost surpassing the total number of government schools. Some quality private Schools have been established which are known for their high standard at par with international norms. They provide best teaching faculty, opportunities for personality development, communication skills and giving exposure to various innovative practices. Children in the private schools are excelling not only in academics, but in other fields as well. The key reason behind the success of private schools in Delhi has been mainly the autonomy which they enjoy in sectors like admission, selection of staff, fixation of fee, etc.

However, since five years the scenario is undergoing alterations. The government has started taking all kinds of measures to curb the autonomy of the private schools. The interference of government in the matter of management of private schools is increasing at an alarming rate. If this trend continues, in a couple of years’ time, the private schools shall also start fading away.

This is going to be a very disastrous situation for a Delhi citizen especially when the city is known for its quality education. It is high time for people to re-think on how they can come forward to save Delhi Schools who are suffering critical circumstances.

S K Bhattacharya

 S K Bhattacharya

Advisor, Child Education Society

Recipient of Life time Achievement

Award of NPSC


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