As parents living in India, you may have come across the concept of corporate schools at some point in time. Corporate schools describe a common trend of the education system and policies that are prevalent in India in the past couple of decades.
While profiteering in schooling is not allowed and is clearly defined as such writing by various central and state laws. In actual practice for some reason, manipulation happens and it is not implemented in India.
Corporate schools is a parent terminology for schools exhibiting some characteristics. Firstly, these schools are highly profitable – the sum of all teachers’ salaries and benefits is a meager portion of the entire fees collected. Secondly, the use of promotional tactics to trap the parents into schools is prevalent. In some areas, for various reasons good alternative service-minded schools fail to establish – many parents believe the corporate schools have a role to play.
Once the school management masters these tactics, it leads to a proliferation of many branches – the management is not into teaching but has mastered the art of persuading the parents and trapping them into paying high school fees for a decade for their kid’s education.
One reason why this situation persists is that the corporate school is like an invasive species that prevents the more beneficial traditional service-minded school from developing in that geographical region. This is especially true in newly urbanized areas. Deprived of good choice many school parents are forced to join their children in the corporate school. This elimination of alternatives is what is the most worrisome aspect of corporate schools.
Unlike in the past, the current private education system in India is often a costly one. While parents are looking to give the best academic experience to their children. However, in that process, they often become the victims of the corporate schools that systematically manipulate them to spend a great deal of money than it is actually necessary on schooling. The calculated, organized, and systematic method of extracting high school fees is carried out by the corporate schools in India often makes it difficult for the parents to arrange the school fees for their children. This immense financial burden is the cause of much stress in an already stressful work-life situation of parents.
Profiteering corporate schools have extensively grown in India in the last 2 decades. They also have a good and effective school owners association. Successful school owners have a good financial position and a lot of time on their hands as most school owners do not do any teaching. Having both time and monetary resources, they have developed much clout and are manipulating the educational ecosystem.
Expensive private schools also do good paid campaigns with public relations and media management. They have also build a good and effective network of well-wishers in the various government and quasi-government agencies. The school owners association has effectively stalled all attempts to reform the system by effectively channelizing their clout in administration, judiciary, and legislative branches of the state. Many parents believe that even the city and state level parent associations are compromised with leaders sympathetic to the school owners’ viewpoint. This impressive clout of the private schools is referred to by school parent victims as the ‘school mafia’
Due to this lack of choices in the rapidly growing urban areas, parents in Urban India, often end up spending a great deal of money on their children’s education needs without getting a sufficiently good quality of education for their children.
Another dominant trend in the sphere of education mafia is of course the positive perception created about corporate schools. Many of these schools do not score high points when it comes to the quality of schooling and the ability of their students to have higher scholastic competence. On the other hand, these institutions basically operate as businesses, milking a lot of money from parents. This is something that they do by attracting the parents by showing them ‘fancy academic infrastructure’ in their schools.
To understand this, we need to see how people buy oranges. Many people believe that oranges with green peel (exterior) are not sweet. While the fact is, the color of the orange peel has no relationship with sweetness. Many farmers believe that the green color helps protest the orange from harsh sunlight and makes it sweeter. But, Buyers often use the orange color to choose ‘better’ ones or avoid sellers selling green oranges. As a result, lower quality or less sweet oranges become more in demand. To avoid this, many fruit sellers treat the oranges chemically to make them fully orange.
Same with schools, the entire focus of the schooling is managing parents’ egos, aspirations and showing visual symbols of quality with physical appearances of the school building, bus, and uniform. The focus is on the poshness and dressing sense of teachers, not the teaching skills or abilities of teachers.
Also, there is an ecosystem created across India of various phony advanced education businesses – offering some creatively packaged training program or other. From leadership for children, creativity for children, or whatever is the current fad. These institutions send a beautiful email template, brochure, or website which the private school forwards to the parents of the schools. Offering these add-on services at an additional fee. 2-4 times a month, parents of fancy schools receive these emails and they start perceiving wrongly that the fancy school is providing all-around education. While the fact is that a rolling stone gathers no moss – doing a dozen disjointed training programs builds no long term competence in the kid.
As the kids grow up, many of them become mediocre performers. Parents may start wondering – why their heavy ‘investment’ into ‘quality’ schooling did not lead to superior results. Why they are left with mediocre performing children. Some portion of these students even become drug addicts. Many students become high lifestyle-oriented unfit to handle the challenges that are required of competent professionals.
All this can be avoided by the parents choosing a non-fancy school. But, that is better said than done. At this point – only a small number of parents are able to really act on facts and make the right choices. As parents, we need to understand that it was not the kid who chose the school but that you are a parent who chose the school for the kid. Avoid falling into another rat race. So make the school choice sensibly.