A standing allegation continues to exist against the private schools that they have a tendency to charge exorbitant fee indiscriminately and commit the unjust and gross fleecing of the guardians. This blame cast against private schools is not new, and it stands unabated since the time when the schools operated and the private sector started to exist. Though the private sector’s participation in school education was opened through amendments in the Education Act during the eighties, it came aggressively after the democratic political change in 1990 when the era of political and social liberalization was ushered in.
As the state adopted an open policy towards inviting private sector to participate in development and service delivery, it was meted out with an enhanced and strong response in this sector. As a consequence, non-state sector came with a vehemence to participate in expanding the contours of education. But the private participation in education development came literally without resources, capacity, academic taste and managerial competence. Those who started to operate private schools, called boarding schools in common parlance, were those who had neither the idea, experience, technology, nor the plans and resources to manage and run the private educational institutions. Many of those who started running the schools had ventured into the field to cash in on or exploit the lure of the guardians for such institutions. Faced with the shortage of idea or resources to invest to get going, the school operators had no options but to resort to charging the exorbitant fee, and extract costs from the guardians under different inapplicable and inappropriate heads or items. The private schools have existentially relied on the fee and contribution from the guardians as the sole source of their operation.
The most unusual and painful recourse of the private operators is that they make least ex ante preparation as to how to run and manage the schools. The basic preliminary infrastructure like school facilities and premises, and other fixed assets which should have been initially procured and set up well before the school starts to operate, are seldom found accomplished. The banner of private schools comes peppered and tampered with different hollow promises and publicity to seduce the guardians.
But the real story is that the operators or promoters fail to deliver the promises and continue to fleece the guardians under different pretensions. The resources the schools raise or extract especially from guardians are neither spent on hiring competent teachers nor inserting new capacity or infrastructure in proportional terms. The private schools are continually accused of underpaying teachers and exploiting them inordinately without according to them the fairer and legitimate terms of employment. Oftentimes strikes and protests are launched on behalf of the teachers working for the private schools demanding that they be paid remuneration and emoluments equal to the teachers working for the government-aided community schools.
Undoubtedly, the results private schools produce in the SLC Exams are, of course, better compared to the government aided community schools. This is clear from the performance details of the SLC exams announced by the Examination Authority annually. However, the result-focused rote learning and memorization technique largely followed and imposed in the private schools has been said to be largely responsible for the relatively better results and performance. But this comes at a huge pedagogical cost entailing the destruction of creativity and critical faculty among the students.
There are no such remarkable cases and examples to indicate that the students who have passed out from the private schools especially during the contemporary times have demonstrated a rare quality and excellence in the higher level pursuit of education and learning. The associations and lobbyists of the private schools often claim that they have made important contributions to the promotion and development of education in the county. They contend that they have stopped the expenses of the valuable foreign
currency with the provision of quality education inside the country which otherwise would have been drained out of the country. This may be true. But a
careful and deeper assessment of the these institutions establishes that
they seem not special and exclusively different in substance from the run-of-the-mill type of bodies. And they are, as one educationist puts, the mere formal and conventional extension of the government aided schools repeating the same pedagogical values and procedures under different a banner and style .
Keeping in view the growing complaints and accusations on the prohibitive fees and costs raised indiscriminately by the private schools, the government has classified them based on their capacity, assets and infrastructure and performance, and fixed the upper ceiling of the fee they can charge to the students. But a recent news report reveals that they keep on effecting the upward revision of the fee without minding the ceiling prescribed by the government.