The All Nagaland Private Schools’ Association (ANPSA), Dimapur Unit would like to put down few grievances of the Private Un-aided Schools of Nagaland who are taking care of a majority section of the Student Community studying in approximately 1000 recognized as well as unrecognized schools under all boards in our State with known fact that these Private Schools produce excellent Board results and quality citizens for our Society. Hence the plight of the Private Schools should be considered at all stages of planning and due consideration should be given on the following points.
- Private Schools as Second Highest Employment providing Sector:
The Private Schools Sector in Nagaland is not only the second highest provider of employment after the State Government but also creates various businesses and job opportunities related to the Education sector which surely curtails the government’s employment problems. We are here for the general goodwill of the public and in ensuring that we practice the values of honesty and hard work. We are generating a major chunk of employment opportunities for many educated unemployed youths of the society and thus we have been helping the state in boosting up its economy. Moreover, the increase of private schools in Nagaland has directly opened up avenues for other allied services in the economy like book and stationery stalls, hostels, IT peripherals and a host of other educational services and has also increased the potentials of many other businesses like tourism, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, bakeries, public and private transport, etc.
- Private Schools as partner with Government in Education Sector to create an Educational Hub:
The Board Examinations speaks volumes about the quality education provided by Private Schools and the government should acknowledge the quality services provided by the Private schools in the Education Sector. We would like to reiterate our stand as a primary stakeholder in not only the educational sector but also the entire economy of the State, and therefore our voices need to be heard by the government and authorities concerned. Our opinion and suggestions should be a matter of priority while framing educational policies as we represent the entire private schools fraternity of Nagaland. It is thus obvious that the opening up of good educational institutions or hospitals per se always leads to economic and social development of any state or nation. We would thus request the government to take up adequate means of encouraging the private schools and colleges and make Nagaland as a hub for educational opportunities whereby revenue for the state can be generated directly or indirectly through quality education catered by state-of-the-art private institutions where students from outside Nagaland and even abroad may make Nagaland as their educational destination. We should not forget that there was a time in the past when the economy of Nagaland drained out to other states as due to lack of adequate facilities the students flocked to other states for seeking educational benefits. In this context, the whole system of economic drainage can be reversed if only the government gives serious consideration to our suggestion of establishing a permanent educational hub in Nagaland. This will be an iconic step undertaken by your government and would create a ripple effect in the economy of the region as well thus creating a landmark for ourselves on the world map.
- Grant of Government Funds to Private Schools:
The private schools in Nagaland are always at the forefront of quality education and have been mostly responsible for a consistent and upward trend in educational benefits for the student community of Nagaland. However, it is quite unfortunate that the entire fleet of Private Schools in Nagaland runs only with meager self generated funds, mostly through fees, which is equivalent to 10% in comparison to the entire budgetary allocation given to the Government Schools each year. Even a layman will be able to judge the huge discrepancy in utilization of funds, whereby Private Schools are able to cater to majority of students of the state with mere 10% financial resource raised by themselves which hardly make ends meet and also without any assistance from either the State or the Central Governments and that too with so much of quality and yeoman service to the State of Nagaland; but on the other hand, even with 100% budgetary allocation of several Thousand Crores of Rupees each year poured in so lavishly by the State Government, the Government Schools always fail to outdo the Private Schools in all fields of activities including examination results, infrastructure or other extra-curricular facilities.
The Government of Nagaland should therefore come up with a drastic step to put to action a plan whereby the public funds are not wasted in vain but put to more judicious use. Instead of pouring all the public money unnecessarily in non-productive government educational agencies, it should rather be the honest endeavour of the government to provide more grants to all Private Schools in the State out of the budgetary allocation as a major section of the students are studying in privates schools. Therefore, the Government should dwell on this matter with due earnestness and use some much needed conscience in the utilization of funds and channelize it properly so that the benefit of government resources go only to performing government educational agencies as well as private schools which have always ensured the development in the quality of education for Nagaland.
- Recognition and Award to Private Schools:
The Teachers’ Awards that are given at State and District Levels every year is in sheer favour of the Government Schools without much and proper verification and just on the mere basis of recommendation. It is really baffling to note that though there is no effort by most Government Schools in the growth of education, a majority of government teachers are selected each year for the Awards. There should be a conscious effort on the part of the Education Department towards bringing about equity in the criterion of selection of awards for Government as well as Private Schools.
- Online classes during the Lockdown period:
It may please be noted that in the present lockdown situation, when most of the private enterprises have totally shut down and ceased all activities, the private schools are still actively involved in the welfare of the students by conducting online classes including assignments and pre-recorded videos so that the students do not miss their lessons and they are not disadvantaged academically. Moreover the task of conducting the online classes is much more challenging and requires more resources.
- Waiving of Fees during the Lockdown period:
As regards the numerous appeals from various civic bodies that private schools should consider waiving or lowering the fees, even though the private schools are aware of the financial difficulties faced by the parents and guardians of the students, there is very little that the private schools can do for them in the form of lessening of fees or even waiving off the fees. The reasons are very simple:
- Many private schools in Nagaland have already been giving a lot of concessions and scholarships to the underprivileged sections of students even at the cost of huge financial losses being incurred by the schools. Moreover, most private schools face the additional problem of many parents not paying their wards’ fees throughout the year with excuses of their inability to pay due to various economic reasons. Here also the private schools are at the receiving end and unfortunately there is little or no option left for them without anyone to bail them out of this situation.
- The teachers and other categories of staffs working in the private schools also need to be paid their due salaries on time as they also have families to look after.
- There are many private schools which run in deficit and do not receive any funds from either the central or state governments despite their quality contribution and employment opportunities for the society. The private schools are ever ready to take up the humanitarian task of considering the appeal for the benefit of the economically affected parents and guardians, provided the state government is also ready to take up the responsibility of providing enough Financial Grant to the private schools so that they can in turn pay the salaries of the Teaching and Non-Teaching staff Members or even stand guarantee to the bank and work out modalities with banks to provide easy loans to the private schools at all times.
- Reopening of Schools after the COVID-19 Lockdown:
In the wake of the pandemic situation, the future of most of the students studying in the private schools are hanging on a thin balance of uncertainty as there is no concrete plan of reopening of schools or resuming of regular classes. Even if the schools are allowed to open, there will still be certain restrictions on the number of students to be allowed per class per day for a considerable period of time. The government should therefore take this matter seriously and discuss with all the stakeholders including the ANPSA on what modalities should be followed to reopen the schools and what norms and standards regarding social distancing should be carried out for the schools after the lockdown. This will save all of us from a lot of chaos and confusion once the schools start reopening. The ANPSA suggests that the session for this year’s academic session be extended up to March 2020 and henceforth April to March Session be introduced in the State.
In light of the above few points that we have elaborated, it is beyond doubt that private schools and colleges have an integral role in the overall social and economical well-being of a state or nation and one can very well imagine the prospect of a society where there are no good schools and colleges. There would be total chaos in our society and crime would abound in the wake of a lack of moral education and there would be economic crunch in the wake of a lack of professionals like doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, technocrats, etc. coming out of schools and colleges. In fact every strata of our society would suffer in the absence of schools and colleges. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to give due consideration to our prominence as an integral part of the economy and provide opportunities for the private schools and colleges to flourish. This can only happen when organizations like ANPSA are considered as primary stakeholders in education and more autonomy is given to all the private schools and colleges throughout Nagaland. In an age when developed nations around the globe like Singapore and Finland are giving top investment priority to educational sector in their annual budgetary allocation, the Nagaland Government should also introspect on the same as this step will, in turn, automatically lead to huge revenue for the State if the government takes a positive step in creating an educational hub in Nagaland.
We are hopeful that an early and optimistic step would be taken by the State Government, led by the Hon’ble Chief Minister and School Education Minister for redressing the numerous grievances of the private schools which we have tried to bring to fore in the best way possible through this open representation.
ANDREW AHOTO SEMA
All Nagaland Private Schools’ Association (ANPSA)
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