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Supreme Court setback

I read with interest your cover story ‘Springtime for India’s private sector education heavyweights’ (EW February). I agree with your basic proposition that it should be the earnest endeavour of every edupreneur to fill the huge gap in tertiary education by providing quality learning throughout the country to every segment of our society.

However, I was shocked to read in the newspapers that the Supreme Court has cancelled the approvals/ affiliations granted by Chattisgarh state to 112 private universities, in effect making UGC (and in some areas AICTE as well) the supreme arbiter of higher education. It is important that public opinion is mobilised in favour of the almost forgotten Private Universities Bill pending in Parliament or a Central ordinance is promulgated by the government of India.

In this third millennium if entrepreneurs are to be ruled by antiquated national and state bureaucratic systems, the nation can’t march forward. Licence-permit raj must come to an end in education. The existing system governing higher education was crafted in a mould that is so old that it can’t deal with the complexities of modern market-driven demands for skilled personnel.

K.V. Simon
on e-mail

Words of praise

I chanced upon EducationWorld on your website (www.educationworldonline.net) while looking for a school for my children. (I am relocating to Bangalore after 17 years in the US).

I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the mission as well as content of EducationWorld. In particular I found the cover story ‘Fading allure of 5-star schools’ (EW December) very timely and useful.

Many thanks to you and your team!

Sunil Murthy on e-mail

More research needed

Your cover story ‘Springtime for India’s private sector education heavyweights’ (EW February) is an interesting and educative report.

At the same time some greater research inputs are needed to make such reports comprehensive. Your cover story lists several (28) heavyweight education groups and provides very interesting data. But I am of the opinion that more heavy-weights would have been discovered if the list was compiled state-wise. In Mysore, JSS Mahavidya-peetha has at least 257 institutions. Why was it left out?

C.G. Nagaraja on e-mail

Our list was illustrative, not exhaustive — Editor

Practice-precept gap

I read your cover story ‘Fading allure of five-star schools’ (EW December) with great interest particularly the viewpoint of Nina Kanjirath, director of the Gintara Foundation, Bangalore which runs two pre-primary schools in the city. "Parents and teachers have to collaborate and cooperate. Given today’s emphasis on professional service, schools that regard parents as intruders or a cause of stress will eventually lose credibility and the community’s trust," Kanjirath told your correspondent Summiya Yasmeen. Fine sentiments, but the management of Gintara schools doesn’t like parents talking or bringing issues about their school to their attention.

I am an expat with 16 years of international experience/ exposure who has voluntarily spent a lot of my time with school children. I have been taking my daughter to playschool in the US since she was six months old. During that time I had the opportunity to personally experience and contribute to the processes, standards in school in matters of childcare and safety.

Although I have paid a full year’s fees, I have withdrawn my daughter from Gintara because staff are casual about child safety. Specific incidents were brought to the management’s attention last November, but were ignored. Subsequently my daughter had to get immediate medical attention due to their negligence.

There is a huge gap/ inconsistency between the management team (Nina Kanjirath and Katherine Rustumji) in terms of information and policies. On several occasions I witnessed a teacher totally dedicated to teaching only one child leaving others to their own devices.

Moreover there’s a general lack of respect and carelessness towards parents’ concerns about child safety. Katherine never called to check on my child who took ill due to her staff’s negligence. When I was given an appointment for a meeting, she never showed up.

Gintara’s statements in the media for public consumption are at a complete variance with their management practices. When I discussed safety and incapability of staff issues with Katherine, she said we are questioning school policies. This contradicts their statement that they encourage PTAs.

Last but not least, Gintara has not at all responded to my request to refund fees paid for the months when we did not use their services. I paid for the year (seven months fees and a total amount of Rs.20,000 including registration), and withdrew my child after three months. One would have expected a respectable institution to refund the money especially when parent(s) withdraw their children due to inadequate school services.

Padmaja Nuvuluru
Bangalore

Capitalist biases

As a regular reader of Education-World, I have been observing that you are importing your capitalist pro-private sector biases and ideological predilections into Indian education.

The reality that India is a poor country where most students cannot afford to pay the high fees always demanded by private sector education institutions seems to completely elude you. As editor of Business India and Businessworld you paved the way for the privatisation of the Indian economy and the entry of foreign capital in a big way into this country. Now you seem determined to do likewise in the education sector.

The economic liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy and globalisation which you seldom miss an opportunity to praise, has in fact deepened the divide between rich and poor and particularly between urban India and rural Bharat. Now you evidently wish to replicate this formula in the education sector. As evidenced by the success of the computer software industry, Indian education in which government plays the major role is in good health. We don’t need it to become a market-driven stock-market of shady, profit-driven businessmen.

Suryaprakash Singh
Patna

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