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The Changing Scenario of Management Education in India
Prof. C. S. Venkataratnam, Member, FICCI Higher Education Committee & Director, IMI, New Delhi
Ms Shobha Mishra,
Joint Director & Team Leader, Education & Health Services Division, FICCI
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by Neha Sardana

Centre of Public Policy in association with ASSOCHAM organized a seminar on "Public-Private Partnership in Education - Can it Work ?" at ASSOCHAM House, 47 Prithviraj Road, New Delhi, on 12th November, 2010.

While the exact scale and nature of the private sector is not easy to assess, the relative significance of private sector participation in education is undeniable. Both demand-driven needs as well as supply-side interventions are responsible for the growth of private sector participation. A substantial Public Private-Partnership (PPP) system does operate in India, at least at the secondary and higher levels of education. This is the system of government grant-in-aid to privately managed schools known as aided schools.

Some of the finest minds of the education industry came together at ASSOCHAM House to discuss the pros and cons of Public-Private Partnership in Education sector. The seminar started with a welcome note by Mr. Vinay Rai, Chairman, Rai Foundation. In his speech, Mr. Rai expressed concern over the education system in India as a whole. He emphasized that traditionally, private sector participation in education has largely been in the form of privately-funded and the provision of ancillary services such as the provision of food and transport services. Recent years, however, have seen the expansion and broadening of the role of the private sector in education and the introduction of more sophisticated forms of private involvement in education-owned schools. Types of engagement of private providers are as diverse and sophisticated as the types of inputs, processes and outcomes involved in education delivery. Despite the emerging role for the private sector in education, it receives comparatively little attention of policy makers in developing countries and of development partners. In many cases, governments do not even measure the size of the private sector. This cannot and should not continue.

Shri. Arvinder Singh Lovely, Minister of Education and Tourism, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, said that Public-private partnership (PPP) has become a fashionable slogan in new development strategies, particularly over the last couple of decades. It is projected as an innovative idea to tap private resources and to encourage the active participation of the private sector in national development. It is more forcefully advocated when public resources are projected to be inadequate to meet needs. PPP is already being adopted in several infrastructure development sectors, such as the development of airports, railways, roads, and so on. But, going by media reports, these have mixed outcomes. The policy initiatives are no longer confined to these; they are being extended to human development sectors such as education and health.

In developing countries like India, the onus of development chiefly lies with the government, that faces the dilemma of numerous demands but a resource crunch leading to dissatisfaction in meeting fundamental objectives like basic literacy. On the flip side, there exists the vibrant, emerging private sector possessing resources and the desire to undertake social responsibility.

"Education for all," a foremost development goal for the country, is central to realizing the potential of these youth. There still are about 8 to 10 million children out-of-school, and a dearth of resources limiting educational quality across a vast public school system.

A public-private union draws together educational innovators and technology leaders to better the quality of teaching, motivate children to complete school, and ensure that skills of young persons, meet the emerging economy's needs. This form of partnership does not profess the superiority of private schools over government schools. Rather, the aim is to think about ways of providing the poorest and most disadvantaged sections of society with the same set of choices faced by their better-off counterparts.

Other eminent personalities who graced the occasion were Mr.Rakesh Mohan, Principal Secretary, Department. of Education, Govt. of NCT of Delhi ; Mr. Satinder Kumar, Director, GD Goenka Schools; Mr.Tejpal Singh Malik, Principal, Govt. Sr. Secondary School; Ms. Sudha, Executive Director, Deepalaya; Mr. R.K. Gautam, Principal, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Tagore Garden, New Delhi and Ms. Rita Talwar, Education Consultant.