City turning into lab for private education?

The Hindu      updated: July 17, 2016 05:38 IST

Private and international players killing the Government school education sector

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have become laboratories for privatisation and commercialisation of education in India that is almost killing the Government school education sector and likely to rob the poor people of their right to education.

A new study ‘Profiting from the Poor: Pearson and the Emergence of Multinational Edu-businesses in Hyderabad, India” claims that international players eyeing the huge school education sector have actually turned Hyderabad into a laboratory so as to replicate the same across the country.

The report released by Education International (EI) is co-authored by Sangeeta Kamat from University of Massachusetts, Carol Anne Spreen from New York University, and Indivar Jonnalagadda from Hyderabad Urban Lab.

The report claims that within Hyderabad an extensive network of multinational corporations, private foundations, consultants, non-government organisations and local entrepreneurs are building an “educational ecosystem” to support the commercialisation of all aspects of education. They are working in violation of Right to Education Act and there seems to be a tacit support from the Government that is diluting its education policies, said Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director and key functionary of Education International that has funded the project.

The private players are establishing themselves under the garb of low-fee schools but there is nothing low in their fee. Parents from poor families seeking good education for their wards are drawn into this dragnet through various strategies like offering digital education. But they engage unqualified teachers hired at very low salaries thus damaging the kids’ future, said Sangeeta Kamat, co-author. The Governments are tacitly encouraging them to kill the Government school sector.

Co-author, Dr. Carol Anne Spreen argued that the presence of an information technology industry was an essential part of the business model being pursued. “Replicating a ‘start-up’ business model, edu-businesses appear, intent to test and incubate new products and services and develop new models of for-profit schools.”

Mr. Gavrielatos said the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the government of AP and Bridge International Academies, to run the state’s primary and early childhood education is an ominous sign of things to come. Supported by Pearson, billionaires Gates and Zuckerberg,

DFID-UK and the World Bank, Bridge has come under heavy criticism in Uganda and Kenya for its scripted curriculum and dependence on untrained teachers, he alleged.

In addition to concerns about access, affordability, and undermining the RTE Act, multinational investment in education raises serious ethical issues of profiting from the poor while undermining national and international mandates that protect education as a fundamental human right.

The teacher organisations like the All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF), All India Federation of Teachers’ Organisation (AIFTO) and All India Secondary Teachers Federation have also come out in support of the project and want to continue their fight against the efforts to close down government schools.

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