NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Wednesday said the government needs to exit infrastructure projects and even look at handing over schools and colleges to the private sector as is the case in Canada and Australia. At the same time, he was critical of India’s private sector, terming it as “most irrational” and “insensitive”. Mr Kant said it messed up projects by aggressive bidding and creating the current crisis in the public private partnership (PPP) model. The idea of privatising education is not a new one; over the years, thanks to the dipping quality of education in government-run schools in India, there has been a demand for private intervention. But in India, the experience of PPP in education has been a mixed one. Two years ago, the Rajasthan government unveiled a PPP policy model to hand over more than 70,000 State-run schools to the private education sector but had to be scrapped after 3.5 lakh teachers resisted the move.
Goal number 4 of SDGs is about education: “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes” is one of the main targets.
If this goal has to be reached using the PPP route, then it is imperative that the government systems have to be upgraded to keep a hawk eye on the progress of such partnerships. But present India doesn’t seem to be ready and equipped for such an overhaul.