School education in has been more or less sucked into the corporate market. The children of the privileged and rich study at the good and high-fee charging schools. Most of these schools look like retail malls or multiplexes. The school authorities look at the school education as a multi-crore market. They hire PROs, publish ads to help them penetrate the market and crores on branding. They have different business models; many of them adopt franchisee model. In their board rooms, parents and children are looked at as consumers, themselves as service providers and teachers as vendors!
Then there are schools which have managed to remain outside the market. These are those run by the government, Christian missionaries or other religious organizations. While government schools are run down, poorly funded and the morale of the teachers in them is extremely low, the teaching practices in missionary schools are also far from satisfactory. As a consequence, education which is supposed to be a social and economic leveller is in fact perpetuating, and widening the divide! Right to Education Act which is supposed to make private schools give access to underprivileged children so far has not shown any promise.
What is to be done? Why is always the government to blame? Aren’t we to be blamed? Should a good school necessarily be expensive? Can there be socially owned and funded, yet professionally managed good quality schools which will debunk the notion of the inevitability of consumerization of school education? Should we not identify this as a challenge which we can stand up to? Should we not put together strategies to meet this challenge?