“In Chandigarh, we have exemplary opportunities and an excellent infrastructure in our government schools, however, parents still wish to send their children to private schools,” says Harbir Singh Anand, Deputy District Education Officer (DEO) for the Chandigarh UT Administration.
Since nursery admissions began in Chandigarh on Monday, parents have been scrambling for admission forms, filling in applications and acquiring appropriate documentation, in order to get their child admitted to a school that they hope will secure his or her future. Many parents, regardless of their socio-economic background, believe that this can only be done by sending their children to private schools.
“No matter what one might say about the quality of public education in Chandigarh, there is a label attached to private education that elevates your child’s status. Plus, it is important that your children speak English well, and I think, most reputed private institutions provide an environment which enables that,” says Neelam, a young mother seeking admission for her daughter at Vivek High School in Sector 38 of Chandigarh.
“We have the most experienced and devoted teachers, who are proficient in their subjects. Our students get quality and free education up till class eighth, an allowance for purchasing notebooks and uniforms, as well as midday meals. It is bizarre that some parents hesitate to send their children to government schools,” says a principal of a government school in Manimajra.
For government schools in Chandigarh, there is a centralised portal through which parents can submit admission forms. Students get admission on the basis of a draw of lots and each student secures a seat in a school which falls within the radius of a kilometre from their residence.
Apart from free education, government schools provide midday meals and free text books. For students of class 1 to 5, an allowance of Rs 1,206 is transferred to their account for purchasing notebooks and uniform. For students of class 6 to 8, this allowance is Rs 14,022.
“Despite all the provisions and a quality infrastructure, parents from affluent economic backgrounds refuse to send their children to study here. There are rarely a few students from well-off families who join in Class 11th and 12th, because they wish to prepare for a competitive exam or take coaching after school,” says a Manimajra government school’s principal.
“Our children have scored so well in the past and we have also been chosen to participate in the PISA examination. Now its up to the parents to make the right decision. We cannot force them after all,” says Deputy DEO Anand.