Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
On 16 September 2023 the Maharashtra state government approved the proposal to allow corporate houses, as well as individual donors and social organisations to adopt government-run schools for a period of five or ten years.
The decision is nothing but a step towards privatisation of government schools. Private players will get ready land and buildings to earn profit by running a school. The government school assets, which are very valuable in cities and particularly in metros, have been built with public money.
Maharashtra has around 62,000 government schools, catering to around 50 lakh students. A large number of these schools serve people who cannot afford expensive private schools. This decision will hit them hard. Many children may be forced to give up education as parents might not be able to afford fees after private players take them over.
No corporate is going to adopt school in rural areas or schools in far flung areas of the state where the number of students is not large. They will focus on large cities where the school assets and land are valuable and the potential to earn profit is high.
The government said the corporates will be allowed to use their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for running the schools and for adding any new infrastructure. Under the programme, the organisations adopting the schools in ‘A’ and ‘B’ type municipal corporation regions will have to commit to spending ₹2 crore over five years or ₹3 crore for 10 years. The expected donation for ‘C’ type municipal corporation schools is ₹1 crore and ₹2 crore, while the remaining schools will get ₹50 lakh and ₹1 crore for five and 10 years, respectively.
It is likely that the amount spent by the corporate will be recovered by way of fees, as a result of which many families will not be able to afford to educate their children.
By this decision, the government is giving up one of its primary responsibilities of funding public education.