'The Tale of the Two - Public vs Private' by G S Madhav Rao

By: Admin 26 April, 2017

This article is Part - 2 of the two part series.

Read Part - 1 here.

By G S Madhav Rao


Today 40% of the total student population goes to private schools. Actually, we don’t need them. We need good public schools. We need public schools that respond to times! Nationalism to me is meeting the learning needs of our children. It means making them future ready!

Instead, Governments have been clever. They transferred the load to private schools through enforced reservation. Government has power without responsibility. I have no data to know how much money the schools actually receive as subsidy.  

People know and the government knows:

Education is not independent of political goals- curriculum framework reflects that so are interventions into schools.


People know and the government knows:

Schools are affiliated on assuring that they work on no profit no loss mode to their respective boards.


People know and the government knows:

Today a new school costs few tens of crores as an investment. This fund is either provided by an individual or individuals or borrowed from banks. Both individuals and banks want a return on their money. Therefore expected return per child, in excess of expenses towards educating a child, is added to fee.

Schools either underpay teachers or overload classrooms to get that return.



People know and the government knows:

Private schools cannot be closed as there is no alternative with government’s failed management of schools.


People know and the government knows:

There is no attempt to revive government schools or to improve them.


People know and the government knows:

Private schools are not the think tank of education policy.

They have no united platform of their own to force policy like the rest of industry.

They don’t have public (read vote bank) support.

They can’t close down easily having put in so much money.

So, flock the horse (private school) but keep it alive whatever may be its state of health!


People know and the government knows:

Less fee means less pay for teachers.

Teaching already a low rated profession will get worse with merit seeking lucrative jobs elsewhere.

Low fee means more students per class. Tuition market gets better.



There is an assumption that parents are being taxed by private schools and they are victims of the system (Interestingly this doesn’t apply for Government when it taxes the middle class on all counts for all services. Taxpayer unlike USA gets nothing for it. That’s another matter!) But parents choose a private school and use every way to get their child there. They forget their role in making the private schools what they are today. They were hapless when public schools failed them.

They are hapless today after having admitted willingly their children to private schools as quality is not assured.


Parents are greedy! They want good private schools and for free or at a fee of their choice! Parents should abandon private schools and go to government schools (as in USA) and force them to deliver quality. It is their right! Parents are selfish. They don’t believe in the government they elect for any quality delivery! I’m sure most of them pay education cess (tax) for education not delivered.



Schools under CBSE operating in Gulf and other countries make huge profits! Never mind! We are in India!



Private schools would also go sooner, if they under deliver by appointing poorly paid low quality teachers, overcrowd the classes and do not own transformation- (a way to improving education to make our children future ready). By controlling the fees, the government would only hasten the death. What little some schools are trying to do for quality would stop doing any good sooner than later.

The Problem with Private Schools

They lost respect!


General Observations: Very few schools stand any different

·        Yearly Fee hike belies logic.

·        Promises made during the increase are not met with.

·        Teachers are not paid well.

·        There are too many overloads on fee. Charge extra for every service.

·        Promised personal attention is a dream.

·        In most schools section strength is high and unmanageable.

·        No school evolves with innovation, facilities and new opportunities.

·        No accountability.


How are private schools losing?

After investing crores, edu-entrepreneurs lose their path after initial success. This happens for reasons.  Most of these are ill informed with a boast of ‘we know it all’ after they taste success. In their wisdom to make more or save the business, they cut the costs across. They own this mantra is to counter with ‘Why the need?’ for anything and everything professionals propose. Stupidity in garb of wisdom reigns!



With all expenses either pruned or stopped, growth cripples and glitter gets lost! Quality manpower and material make way for poor quality. Over this, a fee hike induced every year make them expensive.


Reluctance to reinvest for development and complacency to improve kill institutions, even though they did well in the past. We have examples of good private schools talked high in the past but nowhere near ‘good’ as they are today.

School transformation is constant as every present comes with a different need indicating the future to come. If you know Apple story, you know what I mean!


What the Private schools should learn?


In phone industry Apple shares 92% of the total profits the industry makes. It invests on research, quality and enhances customer satisfaction. It is way ahead of competition. Customers never questioned the price. Before the launch of any of their new products, people all over the globe reach their launch location and wait for days in queues!


Things that Private schools can do:


  1. Deliver value for money

  2. Assure quality

  3. Adjust teaching to Student Learning- Personalize teaching

  4. Introduce learning progression concept by concept from simple to complex and assessment for learning

  5. Realize that good teachers come at a cost

  6. Encourage participative learning

  7. Support by enriching resources

  8. Increase digital support

  9. Quality Leadership

  10. Be accountable


If can’t, disown the responsibility and close shop!




This war is not good!

Government has a moral role in being fair to both private schools and parents by friendly intervention.

In case Government cannot build and manage the kind of schools that parents want, they need to provide per child cost that the government bears per month in their schools to private schools and cap their fees.


Some Maths for reference:

In 2017-18 budget, Kendriya Vidyalayas get 4200 Cr budget allocation. The have an enrolment of about 120000 pupils – tax money goes to educate a government employee’s child. He doesn’t spend on school fee. People in private sector pay the tax and the school fee. They don’t get a KV quality school in rest of the public sector at that fee! On an average student cost at KV is 2900/month, assuming that the staff are paid salaries as per 7th pay commission recommendation. Most of it goes towards employee salaries and welfare. KVs’ capital Investment could be valued at zero as there are no liabilities.


  1. Declare a moratorium on expansion of private schools if the proliferation is not healthy.
  2. Provide subsidy to mitigate investment burden for no money comes free.
  3. A formula for yearly fee increase based on inflation, increase in teacher costs be put in place.
  4. While government subsidizes academic cost, it may think of grading the schools on facilities and provide a fixed or percentage differential for schools to charge extra.
  5. It must put a quality audit in place to encourage schools to innovate and improve. Schools must be accountable be it in private or public.
  6. Government must close down poorly performing private schools.
  7. It must lay guidelines on what it considers academic cost.
  8. It also must define the facilities for which schools can charge extra fee .g. swimming pool, air conditioning etc.



1. Bring private schools under tax laws.

2. Use the money to strengthen public schools.

3. Let parents choose schools like any commodity and discard , if not of quality


This article is Part - 2 of the two part series ‘The Tale of the Two - Public vs Private’.

Read Part - 1 here.


Written by

G S Madhav Rao

CEO Synergy School Systems,

Formerly CAO, GEMS India,

Executive Principal, OOEHS, GEMS, Dubai

Principal, Delhi Public School, Nalco Nagar