INDIA INC TO BUILD MODEL SCHOOLS.
UNION human resource development minister Kapil Sibal's ambitious public- private partnership ( PPP) school project has, unexpectedly, evoked the curiosity of corporate honchos.
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata, JSW Steel chairman and managing director Sajjan Jindal and Bharti Enterprises vice- chairman and managing director Rakesh Bharti Mittal among many other reputed businessmen have shown interest in partnering with the government to set up schools across the country.
The keenness of the corporate firms augurs well for the future and sustainability of the PPP project, which was initially dogged by fears of whether credible private entities would show interest in the project.
The positive buzz around this initiative was generated only after the HRD minister personally reached out to the country's biggest businessmen last month.
According to sources, Sibal wrote to top 100 industry leaders on September 21 with the intention of informing them about the Centre's PPP plan.
The missive, a copy of which is with MAIL TODAY , provides details of the scheme and is a personal invitation to the businessmen to " join in the task of nation building". " The scheme aims to combine the strength of the public and the private sectors to deliver quality education to the children of India," the letter states.
Sibal's missive was sent out after the Planning Commission's meeting with top industry leaders on September 11 in a bid to present the PPP model for education and skill development sectors. The meeting was attended by Sibal and labour minister Mallikarjuna Kharge.
" In the social sector, this is the first PPP scheme on such a large scale. So, the minister reached out to some of the biggest corporate names. In less than a month, we have received positive response from many of them, including Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Sajjan Jindal, Y. C. Deveshwar ( ITC chairman) and Rakesh Bharti Mittal," said an HRD ministry official.
The central government's PPP model in school education is a first of its kind initiative and aims at establishing 2,500 Rashtriya Adarsh Vidyalaya or Model Schools in 3,203 noneducationally backward blocks.
Participation is open to trusts, societies, not- for profit entities and corporate entities, which can collaborate with the government as a part of their corporate social responsibility ( CSR) initiative. " We have given private players the freedom to choose the districts in which they want to establish schools," said the HRD official.
Under the scheme, the Centre would provide tuition fee to support up to 1,000 poor students in each school and the private partner will be responsible for running the institution.
The private partner would also be free to admit 1,500 additional children for a pre- decided tuition fee and the infrastructure could be used for skill development and other educational activities after school hours.
The scheme has been approved by the Union Cabinet and the government is presently inviting applications for the bidding process.
The last date for submitting application is October 20.
The initial response to the scheme was encouraging as private players such as Vedanta Foundation, Bharti Foundation ( of Airtel), Educomp, Banyan Tree Schools and Salwan Education Trust ( which runs Salwan Public Schools) submitted their proposal after the HRD ministry invited expression of interest early this year.
The recent curiosity shown by likes of Tata and Ambani is a shot in the arm for Sibal.
There are, however, few who have also politely declined the minister's invitation. " Some people such as Azim Premji and the Bajaj group have not exhibited interest in this scheme as they are already doing a lot on their own in the education sector," added the HRD official.
The decade- old Azim Premji Foundation, for instance, has its task cut out. Last year, it announced plans to start 1,300 free schools -- two per district -- across the country.
The central government's PPP model in school education aims at establishing 2,500 Rashtriya Adarsh Vidyalaya or model schools in 3,203 non- educationally backward blocks
Q & A
Why does the Centre want to open schools on PPP model?
The Right to Education Act mandates universalisation of elementary education.
Students coming out of elementary stage will naturally need access to secondary education. Given the present financial constraints, the government wants to partner with private entities to set up 2,500 secondary schools across the country
How would the PPP model schools function?
Under the plan, the Centre would provide tuition fee to support up to 1,000 poor students in each school and the private partner will be responsible for running the institution. The private partner would be free to admit 1,500 children for a predecided tuition fee and the infrastructure could also be used for skill development and other educational activities after school hours
Have any private entities shown interest in this scheme?
Good private players such as Vedanta Foundation, Bharti Foundation ( of Airtel), Educomp, Banyan Tree Schools and Salwan Education Trust ( which runs Salwan Public Schools) submitted their proposals at the time the HRD ministry invited expression of interest early this year.
That apart, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Sajjan Jindal, Y. C. Deveshwar and Rakesh Bharti Mittal have also shown interest after Kapil Sibal wrote to them
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