Staff Reporter

School Choice Campaign aims to secure `quality education' for the poor

NEW DELHI: Demanding that the Government fund students and not schools, a non-profit organisation here has launched a "School Choice Campaign" to secure "quality education" for the poor.

According to the campaign, parents should be able to choose the school they think is right for their child, regardless of their economic status or background.

Education vouchers, cash stipends and tuition fee reimbursement schemes are some of the instruments that the Government could use to increase school choice for parents, according to the NGO, Centre for Civil Society, that has mooted this idea.

"The poor are getting left behind due to lack of access to quality education. They have no place to go but Government schools. We must give them a right to education of choice. Education vouchers can give the poor the choice that the rich enjoy today," says Centre for Civil Society president Parth Shah.

Education vouchers are coupons of a specific amount that can be redeemed at any school chosen by the parent.

The NGO will award 400 such vouchers worth Rs. 300 per month in the Capital.

"Today government provides funds to government and private-aided schools which then provide education to students. We believe that education for the poor can be greatly improved by issuing vouchers to those in need. This system makes schools directly accountable to parents since they pay for the education through vouchers. Parents decide and parents choose, not bureaucracies," said Mr. Shah at a press conference here.

Claiming that the support for vouchers was not anti-government schools, he said: "The Government can continue funding government schools at the current level. However, any extra money that is put into the education budget should be used towards vouchers given to the most undeserved areas or communities in the State."