– Amrita Ghosh
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Karnataka has opposed state education minister S. Suresh Kumar’s decision of reducing tuition fees to 70 percent across all boards for the current academic year (2020-21).
Addressing a press conference, Prakash Nedungadi, president, S.R. Nagar Ward, AAP Bengaluru, said that the minister has washed his hands off the responsibility of taking care of both schools and parents by announcing a compulsory 30 percent reduction in tuition fees across all private schools. “The government is supposed to introduce practical measures to reach a middle ground regarding the current crisis that supports both parties and get the system back in order. It’s easy to make a good promise and all the government wants is to make fancy announcements,” he says.
The government had, in the beginning of the academic year, asked schools not to increase fees during the year. It had later given nod to collect the first-term fee in September.
The pressing issue of education and students – the future of the country – is at stake, feels Nedungadi. “Parents are going to be confused, schools will resist the move and children are eventually going to suffer. If they don’t get enrolled back in schools in the next few days, we will lose a year,” he says.
The long-term solution for the ongoing crisis, according to Nedungadi, is to radically improve the quality of government schools in the state. He elaborates, “Unlike in Delhi where AAP has really worked towards improving the quality of government schools, we are not left with much choice here. In Delhi, we spend more than 26 percent of our budget on education and it grows by 10-15 percent every year. Here it is less than 12 percent and it is static. Karnataka has to completely revamp its approach to education.”
Nedungadi wants the government to directly extend financial support to parents to get students back to school by offering a 50 percent subsidy or scholarship to parents for their children to enable them to pay the fees and help schools survive. It can also support schools by reducing electricity charges or subsidising other costs. Terming the move as “vague and impractical”, he says that the government has to come forward with a special package to facilitate seamless collaboration among all the stakeholders.
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