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The Penalty For Choosing Our Schools

“Mei kal se private jaa raha hun”, said Kishore to me.

“Private?”

“Private school bhaiyya!”

And he cycled away happily, with one leg going through the triangle of the space frame – to reach the pedals. Even the cycle frame was bigger than his. Barely reaching my elbows, Kishore is a young lad studying in Class III and is enrolled in the Curious Learning program of PRAYOG. His parents make clay pots to sell them for a living, and live on a subsistence income. They see Kishore as a promising hope to catapult them out of their present condition.

One thing to notice is that, there is a Govt. School barely ten steps away from his house. The school has a pakka building with electricity, it has teachers with B.Ed. degrees who are handsomely paid, it has free meals in the afternoon, it gives the students a scholarship, it also gives them money to buy uniforms and it does not charge the students any money. Despite this, parents like his and many others’ decide to not send their children to the Govt. Schools. Instead, they cut down on their spendings, scrape some money together but cutting corners and send their children to private schools. This is because they believe that their children can receive a better education there. Many of you and I, have been to private schools for the reasons that we know best. We very well know why our parents had made that choice for us.

We as taxpayers are already paying for all the educational services that we receive as ‘free’ from the Govt. When parents are choosing to send their children to another school, they are having to pay a penalty for exercising that choice. The penalty of having to forcefully pay to the government school in the form of taxes, whose facilities that they do not want to avail for the reasons they know best. This tax aggravates the condition of the poor families like Kishore’s, and penalises them only for choosing to send him to a better school. Don’t you think this is preposterous? Being the free citizens of this country, we have a choice to decide which school would be the best for our children. When the government is taking our money and promising us to give us good education, it must be upto the quality that we as customers are paying for. Else, we must have a choice to avail the same services from whom we deem fit.

What kind of justice is it to collect taxes on the promise of giving us good education, and then default on the promise and then, refuse to give our money back when we want to educate our  own children well? Think about it… Isn’t it a form of looting?

Photo Credits: Alabama School Connection

Alston D'Souza

2016 fellow, placed with Prayog in Gopalgunj, Bihar as part of his fellowship. Working on strengthening the various projects undertaken by the organization to improve the public primary education. Alston says, "I believe the closest you can come to being happy is by simply controlling your inner experiences."

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