Mumbai: Private companies can now open schools without being registered as a trust with the Charity Commissioner, if the State government’s new Act sails through the winter session of the legislature. The Education department’s Bill, however, is likely to invite opposition from academicians and activists working in the sector.
In the amendments to the Maharashtra Self-Financed Schools (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2012, the government has proposed to add ‘any registered company’ along with ‘any registered trust’ in Section 3(5).
Till now, organisations interesting in opening a school have had to register as a trust and run it on non-profit basis. This led to fudging of numbers and balance sheets in many instances, said an Education department official.
“The government has stopped granting permissions to aided schools, and we expect those with available resources to run the school on their own. The government has clarified that it cannot give money to run new schools, and this step will surely help increase the number of schools,” said the official.
Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the move will encourage setting up of quality schools and bring in transparency in balance sheets. “With profits seen on paper, more taxes will be paid to the government. It will also put a stop on irregularities in aided institutions.”
However, the idea originated with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II government in 2010. Page 52 of the mid-year review for 2010-11 tabled by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “It is therefore advisable to discontinue with the non-profit trust requirement and allow schools to be profit making.”
Kishore Darak, an independent researcher in education, Pune, said that on one hand, the State is withdrawing support to existing government schools, while planning to let profit-making companies open schools on the other. He said, “It is sad that a government which came to power with promise of correcting wrongdoings of the UPA is enforcing the agenda of privatisation of education. In this sense, this is a UPA III government. Such a proposal may sound a death knell for public education and hence should be condemned and opposed.”