It was the year 1991. The finance minister of that time, Dr Manmohan Singh, had introduced the pan India three terms known as Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation. In short, what we know as LPG. This concept led India to an economic revolution. After that, there was an emergence of private schools in my small town named Barbigha, or we can say that in whole India. Those who have a degree or knowledge can go to this school and teach the children there. Chances of employment became better now. But amid this pandemic, there’s a lot of problems faced by these private schools. Some of these are shut down. Some of these are in the process of being shut down.
According to the population, Sheikhpura is the smallest district of Bihar. In the district of Sheikhpura, a small city Barbigha exist. In Barbigha, there are two types of private schools. First, those who own a big building and the other has a building, but on rent. We can say those small building schools- low-cost private schools. In this pandemic, big building schools provide a facility for online education and small building schools don’t. This led those small building schools to their end.
There was a private school in Barbigha. It had established in the year of 1992. This was the first private school in my town. In the initial phase, there’s a lot of teachers associated with the school. Although, it’s a first private school. And then a time came there are many private schools and the situation of this school became bad continuously. During this pandemic, these schools are being shut down. In the brief, there’s a lock-in school main gate and chances of opening again of this school is zero.
One of the main partner and teacher here said that before this pandemic there was a chance that this school will close soon. Because they have less number of children. And again he said that Although, I think or you can say I have a hope that I will rebuild this school. But this pandemic destroys everything, even that hope which I always had.
He said that there’s a COVID situation here. There’s an existence of fear in the children guardian’s mind. They have a fear that if my child goes to school and anything will happen to them, then who cares. Maybe this virus will lead them to death. So, anyone doesn’t want to send their children to school. Alternatives like online classes are not possible here, he mentioned.
Another reason he mentioned that this school is on the rent. I have to pay rent during the pandemic. I had not any earning but I have to pay. So, we decided to close this school. For my earnings, I teach some students at my house. From this, I have the earnings so that I can live well. One of the teacher there also who previously taught in this school said that I haven’t earned a single penny after the lockdown impose. He mentioned that “gaon dehat me hain to sab shi hai”(I am in the village now so things are well).
In another school I talk; they said that there is little chance of reopening the school. Many of the guardians haven’t paid the previous year fee when the lockdown wasn’t imposed. In the order of that dues which they have to pay; they will try not to send their children. Most children belong to a poor family. Their family lived in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Surat and from there they sent school fees to the bank account of the school. But now they all are in Village where earning is only for their survival. He added that there are many small schools close here because of the pandemic.
A survey named ‘E-school Readiness Survey’ done by an Indian school finance company tells us; 87.5% of private school are facing struggle related to fees collection. 55% of parents said that they don’t have sufficient income to pay. 24.5% of parents not able to pay fee because of lockdown. 12% of parents are not getting salary on time so couldn’t pay on time.
Another person I spoke to said, “I start my school before the pandemic in 2019. In very little time; there were approximately 300 students who joined us and also 14 teachers. Because it’s starting time So, I have not that type of earning. The money which came from this I shared with those 14 teachers. I pay all of them (3500-5000) rupees. After lockdown, I had tried to pay those teachers. But at what time? I also have to survive so I stopped paying them.
The Bihar government ends the lockdown phase-wise also give a guideline to open schools. So, I tried to open my school according to these guidelines but you know there is no such thing as perfection. Sometimes mistake happens and then there is a lesser-known journalist who threatens us. They say you have to give advertisements in my newspaper of your school otherwise I will publish your fault. He mentioned that I also have to pay the rent of that building but what can I do? I have an expectation from this school because in the little time many students joined us. So, I will not shut this school anyway.”
A son and his father also run a school in the city called Biharsharif; they say I also have a problem but my problem is not as large because I have my building and also in my family has a good economic background.
But here also has problems like how much or to whom? Is that sufficient? I came with a report on the News Click website. The report is on a protest led by a group of private coaching institutes in Bihar due to lockdown things. They also face the financial struggles which I mentioned above. There’s a staff of a private coaching institute said that the government should allow the private institutes to open with certain terms and conditions.
I think this is the only thing government can do. They don’t have another option to help these private schools and coaching institutes.
If we try to find alternatives to help the students, their parents can help them with their knowledge. But here many of the parents are busy doing their work and also many are illiterate. If they try to provide them with any help- Youtube is a better option. But here things are not organized. Other alternatives could be platforms like Toppr, Vedantu, Byju’s, Unacademy etc. But they charge very high and here the majority of the parents have don’t have any earnings. So, they have to live with these difficulties and a defective system.