Reservation is a distracting word in India.
In all the discussion since the Supreme Court upheld the guidelines of the Right to Education Act about a month ago, maximum debate has centred around one clause, the one that earmarks 25% of seats in private schools for economically weaker sections.
Yes, the reservations will have huge repercussions on students and families all round, among the rich and the poor, and yes, there will be stories of discrimination, endurance, and maybe even some success.
But the fact remains that a majority of students in India still attend public schools. While there’s no denying private school enrolment is increasing (the Annual Status of Education Report 2011 says it has gone from 18.7% in 2006 to 25.6% in 2011), there are still about 75% of students in India attending public schools.
The reservation debate has distracted attention from a disturbing fact: that the government sees private schools as an alternate to state schooling. By stipulating that private schools reserve 25% seats for poor students, the government is not only accommodating more people enrolling in private schools, but also shrugging off at least part of the responsibility for free and compulsory education. There wouldn’t be a need to allot 25% of seats in private schools to the poor if there were enough seats in public schools. And parents wouldn’t want to enroll their children in private schools, if they were getting the kind of education they deserve in public schools.
Read the full article by Aditi Seshadri at DNA