Classroom in New Delhi
Teachers in New Delhi, India demonstrated this week against the further privatisation of schools
The government is planning to open 2500 new schools under the private public partnership (PPP) scheme. Teaching unions say this will further commercialise education and discriminate against poor parents. The leader of the All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) told the Deccan Herald:
“Schools to be opened under the PPP mode will be out of the reach of children from poverty stricken families and under privileged sections of the society as tuition fees, cost of uniforms and other requirements will be beyond their capacity.”
The AIPTF staged a demonstration this week in New Delhi against the commercialisation of education and against the use of untrained contract teachers - demanding that they be properly paid and trained.
India passed the Right To Education act in 2010, which was supposed to guarantee equity of education to all children. In fact, government schools all across the country are being systematically underfunded. Many have no toilets, virtually no equipment and even no furtniture. Children often have to sit on the floor to work in overcrowded classrooms. Meanwhile teachers are badly paid and many of them are on temporary contracts.
To make matters worse, public school teachers are expected to do all sorts of other jobs like running censuses and elections, not to mention being responsible for children's enrollment, attendance and even their health records. As a result they have little time to teach and government schools are denigrated in the media - leading even some poor parents to choose private schools, many of which are staffed by unqualified teachers. These often make healthy profits for their owners - some of whom are the very politicians who are supposed to be responsible for public schools.
The teaching unions in India - like the AIPTF and the AIFTO are engaged in a continuing struggle to defend public education against underfunding and the encroachments of privatisation.