The idea of a ‘Private School’ in India is very misleading as the government has a lot of control and interference in the manner in which schools function. School managements over the years, have figured out ways of working around the system rather than doing their bit to change the system. It is fair to comment that in India the manner in which the government makes laws is quite ambiguous, especially when it comes to educational policy. A lot of policies that are made, lack basic common sense and logic and in most cases don’t even remotely consider researched methodology as a foundation for policy making. In a scenario like this the private education fraternity in India is at the receiving end and they believe they have very little option but to toe the line.
Private Schools in India have always been reactive to the situation rather than being proactive. They come together and form associations with very narrowed short-term goals like safe guarding their interest after the Right to Education Act, or putting their weight behind fee regulations. This approach has not yielded any significant results and I do not see any major changes in their impact in future too, since these associations are not proactive and lack vision.
I believe that one of the reasons why these associations are not effective is because whenever they meet governmental representatives or policy makers they normally tend to put across views, suggestions, opinions, experiences and thoughts about how things should be. It is very difficult for the government and bureaucracy to be swayed by views of an association. It then becomes a debate of ideologies since there is no factual data or researched findings that are available.
Since the government does very little research before making policy, it presents a big opportunity for private school associations to initiate research on issues that matter. This research can be approached from 2 different perspectives – one from the grass root level in-school research and the other macro perspective of independent research by private bodies.
Every school can set up a research team comprising of a few teachers who can explore and analyse issues that matters to them like – ways to engage parents, understanding discipline issues among children, impact of excess information on children etc. In addition to these topics they could play an integral part in supporting research for policy making by delving into topics like – Impact of RTE, CCE etc.
This could lead to the creation of white papers and research data which when shared with the public and media at large will help shape public opinion. Public opinion backed by research findings is a great way of shaping the minds of policymakers. This approach would be more impactful as you can argue with opinions and perceptions but not with data.