India: unions oppose privatisation of schools

published 4 August 2017 updated 11 August 2017

Unions have voiced their strong opposition to the memorandum of understanding between public authorities and private education providers during a public forum against the privatisation of education in Hyderabad, India.

Privatisation and commercialisation of education is a controversial issue in the provinces of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India. In response to this phenomenon, a public forum was co-organized by Education International and its affiliates in these regions in the joint capital of Hyderabad. The event shed light on the deal between the government and private providers to outsource public education. More than 150 members and leaders of EI affiliates All India Primary Teachers’ Federation, All India Secondary Teachers’ Federation and All India Federation of Teachers’ Organisations attended, along with parents, members of civil society, Education International leaders and university academics.

Opposing privatisation

During the forum, the unions voiced their strong opposition to plans by global edubusiness Bridge International Academies (BIA)to take over 4000 schools from the Andhra Pradesh government, and plans to closure public schools by the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments.

This move, they said, undermines the right of all children, especially the poor and unprivileged, to quality education. They consequently demanded the immediate withdrawal of the existing memorandum of understanding with BIA and appealed to the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to fully implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act as adopted by the Indian Parliament.

Mr. Ram Pal Singh, President of the All India Primary Teachers Federation noted that “the teachers’ community is gravely concerned as the governments are creating exemptions or loopholes for private providers and demonstrating a lack of political will to properly enforce and monitor adherence to the requirements of the RTE”. He demanded strong government action against the violation of norms by the private schools.

Society demands U-turn

More than 300 members of teachers’ unions, civil society organisations, and parent organisations have signed and submitted a declaration to the Chief Ministers of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana regions.

The text heavily criticises and demands the withdrawal of the memorandum of understanding with BIA, which would lead to the closure of government schools.

As Ms. Shashi Bala Singh, Chief Regional Coordinator of EI’s Asia Pacific region, emphasized during the seminar, education is a fundamental human right and it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all children are able to exercise their right to quality education.