The Business Of Schools

In continuation with this post I wrote on monday, lets talk about the business of schools. As fas as I know, until a couple of years back, one had not heard of newspaper and radio advertisements for the schools. Or maybe – I was just a frog in the well – didnt really concern myself with it.But have you seen the 4 page spreads that come along with the newspapers today?

It all starts from November for admissions in June. 4 colorful pages of children in a laboratory,in the grounds playing, at some exhibition, competitions and various extra curricular activities. Every school publisizes the collaboration with an ‘International University’ and call them selves as an ‘International school’. They all claim to have huge sprawling campuses with every facility under the sun – swimming and yoga being the minimum. There are even horse riding and pool lessons given to ‘age appropriate’ classes. And they all have class trips – within the city/within the country and 1 international trip at least for the higher classes. And they have different methods of teaching.  Some talk about independent thinking while some talk about ‘Training the Brain’. Some talk about national level exams and some talk about international quizzes…

But how many of them really talk about the parent-teacher collaboration? One-on-one attention for kids in lower classes? As a parent-yes I do read through them all-who knows what I will be missing to ensure my child recieves? And then quietly put them all aside. For me the biggest catch is-they are not close enough. Apart from expenses which Im sure would be noteworthy, I dont think I want to send my kid to a school 25kms from home to a sprawling campus (atleast not right now) while he gets tired travelling and not enjoy the campus and the games. I would rather have him closer home-I dont mind him not learning swimming right now, but I do want easier access to the teacher. I do want my kid to be comfortable enough to stand up and tell his teacher that he wants to pee! Rather than be afraid to walk himself to the toilet in that huge campus! I want him to come home dirty because he played in mud and tell me stories of imagination, of what he built in school rather than coming home and telling me that he’s too tired to even talk to me because he travelled so far. Am I being stupid?

These are my priorities – yes, maybe still very much middle class-the 4 page Advertisement does catch my eye but it does not make me want to even go visit their FB page or their school website – Yes FB Page for a 5 year old!-what do you think? Do those 4 page advertisements really help?

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12 thoughts on “The Business Of Schools

  1. I don’t think so. I also read them to know what is going on but them put them aside. Look the huge fees that the schools today charge. For a kindergarten kid, we shell out closer to 50,000 to 1 lakh and if international, it is double…. it all has become.. .well a business.

  2. Batul

    Your thoughts and priorities aren’t middle class… Even we were thinking on the same lines for our school woes and we took admission in a school closer to home that offers just enough extracurricular activities for the child..

  3. I was letting R watch that stupid Chota bheem the other sunday on TV and I saw the advertisment of a school in it!! Gasp…

    and its pretty common in papers..

    Since when did Education start needing propogation!

    I think in India two things will definitely earn you a lot of money -religion and education!

  4. I would like to add one more to RM’s list – hospitals. They too have become money minting businesses.

    About schools, I have a lot to rant about. We had a crazy phase of school hunting. Would do a post after the Goa series.

    Hows Chutku doing now re?

  5. I think the change is that while in the past schools in India were subsidized by the government, now there are many more private schools. Not sure if there was a change in regulations, or just that it became easier to set up private schools. But also, I know that in Mumbai, the government subsidy began to fall far short of what is required to run a good quality school. Therefore, many of the government-subsidized schools, often convent schools, that we went to as kids are in such a bad way that middle class people don’t want to send their kids there. Private organisations – be they schools or hospitals – would need to make money to stay afloat, to attract talent, to upgrade equipment.

    So even though I too struggle with the idea of paying huge sums for education, I think it’s a reality we need to get used to. It would be great if the government provided good quality free education but unless the middle class can organise itself to demand it, well…I guess we were lucky we got a halfway decent education at the price we paid, which is frankly a highly discounted rate.

    As for advertising, I work in exactly the department of an educational institution that produces such advertising and, well, it’s something you do to make people aware that you exist and what you have to offer. The institutions will highlight what they think is attractive and special about them. FB pages are just another way to reach your target audience.

    I agree with you on picking a school close to my home – I am going through exactly this dilemma right now and just did not even consider schools further away – but that’s not something an institution can advertise. Though I agree with your other points, a large campus doesn’t mean your kid will have to walk a mile to the toilet. Presumably they’ll have lots of toilets because they have lots of space. In an educational instiution, space is a good thing, but it’s not the only thing and for me, close to home for a small child would trump it. Nevertheless, if I worked for an educational institution which had a huge campus, I would advertise that.

    I don’t think advertising or even charging high fees is immoral. What is terrible is that our government cannot guarantee decent education for all.

    1. I agree that it is not immoral but if they are charging this much what responsibilities are they taking over..

      If they want to run it as a business then they need to give us value for our money too..

      I studied in a school in which my class use to be under a PEEPAL tree, and then i went to a public school later , I am sure I can give a RUN for money to some of the students who are studying in such hi fi school.. paying lakhs in fees .. 🙂

      1. Bikram, if you got a great education while paying very little, that’s ideal isn’t it? What parent wouldn’t want that for their child? But that education was not free either – the government was paying for it, or some kind of charitable trust. And teachers salaries were on the low end of the scale.

        Now the government in many countries is realising that they cannot afford to or don’t want to foot this bill. This is the issue with the government, not with private institutions who step in to fill the gap. Private institutions cannot be expected to run a charity service. But if people really feel they need to government to provide highly subsidized education, then they need to demand it. After all, it’s their own taxes that are footing the bill.

        In terms of guarantee, private institutions who charge high fees are under pressure to show results – whether in terms of admission to prestigious universities, or public exam results (still important to Indian parents). Parents who send their kids to these schools are also quite demanding of the schools.

        It may also be that there are just more kids in India looking for an education; after all the literacy rate has been rising, and as the middle class gets more affluent more parents want at least a certain standard of education for their kids, which is why the schools we went to as kids are overflowing.

  6. I am really astonished , and as I was talking to you on the previous post I got more astonished .. I did not know things were this bad.. This is crazy..
    It has become a business the idea of TEACHING has gone I believe, if the schools are charging this much money what guarantee are they giving .. one shud ask that question ..

    If I buy a product from a shop I get 12 months ,, same rule shud apply here too

  7. I agree to RM’s comment, religion and education are really evergreen sectors. I am out of touch with education scene in India and was shocked to read the fees as
    75 -80,000 for a decent school. One-time donation fees and priority to parents from a few categories of work, etc, seriously it’s becoming almost like the Brotherhood of education. In the end, a lot depends on the individuals – the teacher, the child, not so much on infrastructure, etc.

  8. Pingback: On schooling « for whom the bell tolls

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