Corporatisation of schools starts in Andhra Pradesh

Proposal gets in-principle approval.

Vijayawada: The proposal to hand over the premises and administration of schools running under local bodies, zilla parishads and state government, to two major corporates on 33-year lease basis has reportedly got approval in principle.

The proposal, which has been lying in the HRD Ministry for the past two years, at last got a chance to become a draft, from file note and would shortly reach the CMO, sources said. If everything goes as per the proposal, the government and local bodies will not have any say over school education in the days to come.

In fact, the proposal has been doing rounds between the School education Commissionerate and the ministry of HRD, since two years, following the pressure from two Cabinet ministers, as they are close to the managements of two Corporate educational institutions.

However, senior officers have been repeatedly trying to explain the difficulties in handing over the buildings, premises, and the immovable assets of the Schools, which may lead to legal complications.

“Since, the Government has entered into the second half, the land and assets acquisition of schools under local bodies and State run administration has come again into the picture,” a senior officer in the school education department said, on condition of anonymity.

Hopefully, the draft prepared in strict confidence of the HRD minister’s peshi will be placed before the Chief Minister, before going to the next Cabinet meet, he added. If such is the case, the future generation children will have to forego education facilities, with welfare, according to him.

The Corporates have reportedly stated that they would run the schools, by improving infra facilities with their money and sought permission to develop other commercial facilities in the school buildings premises, for generating revenues, for a period of 33 years on lease.

If the process will be allowed, slowly the Government will reduce the salary component from its end and the same will be taken over by Corporates. Instead of supporting the primary and secondary school education, the Government itself is encouraging Corporates, through this nomination model, the senior officer said.

In the guise of providing better and competitive education, the Corporates have targeted the schools being run by local bodies, Zilla parishads and State Government.

Parents’ view not considered
Generally, a board of school trustees has to agree to any request to lease or hire out any of school property. There is no automatic right for third parties to occupy the school property. If you agree, then it must be approved by the Ministry.

There are different standard agreements across the country. One school can be leased or hired out for a variety of reasons such as community groups hiring the school hall, groups wanting to use the playground for after-school care use or weekend sports, play groups leasing an empty classroom and the council building a community gym on land leased from your school.

If someone who wants to lease or hire part of the school, the board must discuss it and pass a resolution at the next board meeting. It has to happen across the State, in all schools and parents committees also need to be taken into consideration. However, the Government or ministry of HRD didn’t do that so far, according to sources from the ministry.

There are risks to the school, which mean the costs or problems from having people on school property, insurances, where property may not be covered if leased out, the future of the school where the classrooms may be needed for roll growth, and as to whether the interested corporate institute is committing before future boards to long-term agreements, in case of leases can go for 35 years.

Day-to-day operations, such as extra pressure on services, whether the particular school community will consider it an acceptable use, whether third party staff or employers need to be vetted by the police, if the benefits to your school will outweigh inconveniences, and also about the special rules around sleepovers in schools, are also the factors, which the boards of the respective schools must approve before accepting a proposal. The approval must be documented in minutes or a letter.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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