Friday, April 25, 2014

Autonomous Education Companies and Campuses: Something For Indian Government to Think and Act!

The following are some suggestions that the law makers and entrepreneurs of any country may consider implementing for making drastic improvements in existing school and college level education in their nations, especially my own country India.

1.Schools and colleges having high standards and facilities should be allowed to be set up also as profit making corporate entities with professional management. The profits of such corporate educational institutions should also be taxable under the law governing business entities. However, tax exemptions may be granted till such time that the institution becomes fully operational. 

(In India at present, there are indirect legal hindrances that do not permit educational institutions of be established under the Companies Act 2013 though the Act in itself does not categorically exclude it. So, one may not find a school or college or educational institution offering formal education having a name such as M/s ABC Education Services Pvt Limited or M/s ABC Education Services Limited. Presently the government allows educational institutions to be set up under the Societies Registration Act-1860 or the Indian Trusts Act-1882. This was something acceptable in olden days when education was considered as a purely non profit activity. However, post liberalization, the situation has clandestinely changed. The government while retaining the policy of maintaining education as a non profit activity allowed both government controlled and private societies and trusts to enhance the fees exorbitantly with no transparency whatsoever allowing many of the existing managements to amass huge funds at their disposal to be diverted illegally for other purposes. For example, a two year Post graduate management program in a government controlled institute which used to be less than Rs.10000/- two decades ago has sky rocketed to Rs.1,700,000/- at present! Yet, there is no transparency on the manner in which these funds are used. On the other hand, a company doing business is bound to publish their profit loss accounts and balance sheet to the public scrutiny and also pay taxes and and declare dividends  if there is any profit!) 

2. The education company should have full freedom to device its curriculum, its teaching system, admission procedures and the qualifications required for its teachers. It should also have freedom to advertise about its functions to draw clients (students and their parents) to avail its educational services. The parents and children should have the freedom to decide whether they would like to have their education in such institutions. However, the government should make laws in such a way that there is a level playing policy clarity with minimum governmental interference while ensuring essential  superintending controls. 

3. Such a corporate educational institution should admit boys and girls who have already completed their pre-primary and primary level schooling and the minimum age of admission to an institution should be ten.

4. Such an institution should have an integrated education system comprising of school and college education in the following manner:

-Middle school education of three years, 
-High school education of three years, 
-Senior school education of two years
-Integrated college level education of  five years. 

Thus a student entering the integrated study program finishes the entire course at an age of twenty three. 

The eight year long school learning provides the Integrated Residential School Diploma Certificate (IRSDC) and the subsequent five year integrated college education provides the Integrated Post Graduate Diploma Certificate (IPGDC) with a common curriculum with about 50% of study time reserved for specialized studies in any elective subjects of interests  from a number of elective courses in the field of physical sciences, applied sciences and engineering,  bio sciences and applied bio sciences, economics, commerce, business, law, etc. 

5. The entire education shall be residential and co-educational. However, the hostels should be separate for boys and girls and the young men and women. A few teachers and trainers shall reside in the hostels as local guardians and counselors.

6. The intake capacity of the lowest sized campus at entry level shall be 50 girls and 50 boys and this capacity should not be changed at any time. The batch strength shall not exceed 100 and the total student strength should not exceed 1300 in such a campus. However larger campuses with proportionately higher student strengths also may be planned. Students may be allowed mutual change of campus that follows similar education pattern.

7. The campus shall be set up at least 25 kilometers away from any urban or city limits and the campus area shall not be less than 25 acres for the lowest sized campus. The campus shall be fully secured to ensure full security to the residents. The campus shall have its own solar powered electric generation system with alternate power back ups. It should also have its own water treatment and supply system with rain water harvesting systems and waste water treatment systems and bio waste processing systems. At least five acres of the land shall be reserved as the campus horticulture farm to enable students to experience the basics of land management and essentials of agriculture.

10. The campus shall have its own medical clinic with medical staff, sports center with sports trainers and environmental practice center with agricultural trainers.

8. Two hours of study on all working days shall be exclusively reserved for language studies for the school level curriculum. Students completing the school level learning shall be fully capable of oral and written communication in one national and one international language. They should also have adequate competency in these languages so that they are capable of self learning in later years by reading and writing. They shall also be adequately computer literate at this stage.

9. All students shall attend 15 days study excursions to various cities, factories, hospitals, farms in the  every year compulsorily on all years of their campus stay, out of which two such trips shall be to foreign countries.

10. All students shall get one month compulsory holidays per year to spend their time with their families.

11. All students shall participate in some kind of games, physical work in the farms or workshops or in the gymnasiums on all working days for at least one hour.

12. Students shall normally pursue one subject of study other than the languages in a week of six working days, each day comprising of five hours of oral and experimental learning activity. They will learn the subject for five days in a language most common and most acceptable for five days, refresh it and complete an assignment on the sixth day of learning a particular learning module. For completing their test assignment they are allowed to use their study materials and references. The completed assignments shall be kept as records and shall be used as one of the means for evaluating the students' performances. 

13. Use of memory based examinations shall be minimal and shall have least weight-age in the evaluation process of the students.

14. Students who are not compatible to the residential campus education system and who are judged as physically or mentally unfit to pursue the education may be allowed to leave the campus after due completion of a process which shall be sympathetic to the student's future development. All other students pass out with just three passing out grades- Brilliant(B), Excellent(E) and Accomplished (A).  

15. The fee chargeable by the institute shall be based on the expenditure incurred and the audited account statements of the institute shall be published in their website. There shall be no government interference in as charged by the institution and the fee chargeable should be deemed as a service charge which could be taxable. The educational company may have more than one campus and they can declare dividends to their share holders in the event of profits just as any corporate business entity. They may not declare any profits even when there is a surplus in case they have immediate development plans. 

16. The education company may enter into agreements with corporate business entities for extended on the job training to the pass-outs and ensuring guaranteed employment opportunities to the graduates from the campus. However, the education and training program of the campus shall be such that every pass out from the campus is a youth who could be an example to all others in all respects.

17. The education service company may employ experienced doctors, engineers, lawyers, technocrats, academicians, trainers, artists or any one who possesses experience and wisdom as teachers and trainers of the students in addition to the permanent campus guide teachers who too are highly qualified and trained to do their duties in a very responsible manner. The campus shall have facilities for fine living and recreation for all its faculty and staff members.

18. The admission to the campus at entry level shall be based on the an Intelligence Quotient  Test (IQT) , Empathy Quotient Test (EQT) and a Preliminary Knowledge Test (PKT). The test and its evaluation shall be done by competent professionals. Students scoring below the average score of all applicants shall not be admitted and all students should have desirable levels of IQT,  EQT and PKT scores.

19. The IRSDC issued by such institutions should be statutorily recognized as equivalent to the conventional Senior Secondary School Certificate while the IPGDC should be equivalent to the conventional Post Graduate Degree.

20. The wholly residential educational institutions set up and run in this manner should be recognized as autonomous educational institutions. 

I know that there could be several additional ideas to fine tune the concept further so that our future generations should be transformed as perfected citizens who are capable of adapting to any situations with ease and are highly competent and honest. 

It is high time that the stereo typed education with least flexibility is discarded and students are benefited to learn from multiple fronts in a holistic manner. 

Examination based education needs to be thrown out and an education oriented to develop students in an all round manner should take its place. 

Creativity, curiosity, honesty and compassion should be encouraged while parroting should be discouraged. 

Our concepts of education need to change. New ideas and experiments should be allowed to happen. The laws and regulations that curtail that freedom of people with innovative ideas need to be reviewed and changed if needed.

In any case, the practice of education business in the guise of non-profit societies and trusts should end. No non-profit charities and trusts should be allowed to exploit the students, parents and the government and manage their enormous funds clandestinely without paying any taxes. In the event, the educational institution is run by non-profit societies and trusts, their income and expenditure statements should be made available in their websites and it should be mandatory for them to get it audited. No such institution should be allowed to enhance fees if they are already surplus with funds. It should be their prime duty to prove that they are really non-profit making organizations. If not they should be allowed to get themselves changed to education companies with profit motive.

It is just a suggestion from a common man of India for any people friendly democratic government of India to think and implement.  

No doubt, educational avenues for the wealthy people have increased many fold in the recent years in India. But employment opportunities commensurate with the cost of education have not increased. It is the government's duty to do research on this aspect and publish such information for the guidance of the people.

At least, the government of India should not be a facilitator for education exploitation by unscrupulous elements in various clandestine manners any more!

Let not our beloved nation to degrade year after year to be known as the mother of all corruptions by perpetuating an education system which nurtures corruption and dishonesty!


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