More News on the School Choice Campaign
What are they trying to do?
Get vulnerable students enrolled in private schools.
What’s new about that?
No funds are disbursed to either the schools or the students. Instead the school is given educational vouchers that can be redeemed to cover the cost of students’ education.
Why are they going the supermarket way?
Under the Pahal scheme, per capita spend on a student is Rs. 3,000 a year. In comparison, the government used to spend more than Rs. 10,000 per child in government schools. There is also less chance of funds getting misused.
Part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Pahal tries to get urban slum children, aged 6-14, into private schools. As of August 2008, 651 children from the four districts of Dehradun, Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar have enrolled in private schools. And now, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal wants to take the scheme national. Pahal does not fund disadvantaged students. Instead, it attaches students to private schools in the area and directly pays the schools via education vouchers.
“Our intention is not to annihilate the government schools. All we want is greater accountability,” says Shah. And accountability works both ways. Based on contracts signed with schools, Pahal pays Rs.3,000 per child in three instalments and these are linked to the student’s progress. The first instalment is made within one week of enrolment. The second instalment depends on attendance and improved performance, which is evaluated by an external agency. The final instalment is made on the basis of higher achievement levels indicated in the annual exams.
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