EXPLAINED! The Proposed Merger Of Aided Schools And Colleges In Andhra Pradesh!
The origin of the idea of Aided education institutes has a noble cause at the center of it. While in the last few decades most of the aided institutions have been struggling to provide market standard infrastructure and staff. Most of the aided institutions reach out to Government and Non-Government institutions for funds and regularisation of staff from time to time. The Government’s grant only contributes through the means of salaries of aided staff. The infrastructure, management, quality control, all of it, are taken care of by the independent school management. As of now, most of the Aided schools/colleges have very poor infrastructure, a low number of teaching staff, and low student enrollment rates. While the state government provides salaries for teaching and non-teaching-aided staff, the demand for promotions for existing staff and recruitment of new staff is more than 2 decades old. While institutions earlier received grants amounting to 6% of the salaries paid to its aided staff, this grant has also been disbursed irregularly for years now.
In 1999 December, a GO was introduced that barred the Government of Andhra Pradesh from recruiting teachers in Aided schools/colleges. The same GO was carried forward by previous governments till 2017. The Government has no control over the recruitment of aided staff (Teaching/Non teaching) and thus some of the aided institutions are not transparent with regards to their recruitment standards.
As per Section 60 of the Andhra Pradesh Education Act, 1982, the government may take over an educational institution after giving one month’s notice, if it is of the opinion that it would be in the public interest or to secure the proper management of the institution. However, the Current Government had issued orders that detailed the policy to be followed for taking over “willing” private aided schools and colleges, including minority institutions.
The current Government introduced a proposal where, they can work with the “Willing” institutions, for providing better infrastructure, amenities to the staff and Government facilities to the students via various schemes. The Government has received an overwhelming response for the policy and accordingly, 68.78% of the 2249 private aided educational institutions, that are functional as of the date of issuance of the policy, have submitted their written willingness voluntarily choosing one of the two options and 6600+ staff (teaching and non-teaching) have reported to the Government for absorption.
DEOs and MEOs (Mandal Education Officers) have been asked to ensure students are accommodated at nearby government schools, if their current school management decides to shut their operations, or if they don’t wish to continue in the school once it is unaided. In cases where schools are about to close down, teaching activities and mid-day meal provision will continue until students are shifted to alternative schools.
For aided teachers, promotions have been halted for decades. They also do not have any additional benefits like provident fund etc. In some schools, working conditions and infrastructure are not very good, and aided teachers are forced to give up a part of their salary towards school expenses. So for many teachers, this merger would bring happy days.
A malicious campaign is in effect to deceive students through social media with false narratives. Here we are clearing up some of the top false narratives.
- Aided colleges will Cease to Exist?
Aided institutions will continue to be in existence and will keep working on the same model if they want to. There is no compulsion on the merger and only the “willing” aided schools/colleges, have to go ahead with the merger. In simple words, there are 4 options for an aided educational institution.
Option 1 – Willingness to voluntarily surrender the entire institution along with assets and the existing staff which will make the institutions as Government Educational Institutions without any liabilities and financial burden on the exchequer.
Option 2 – Willingness to voluntarily surrender only the aid in the form of surrendering all the duly sanctioned aided posts along with aided staff, but not the assets, which will make the institutions as Private Unaided Educational Institutions.
Option 3 – Unwilling to Option 1 and Option 2 and thereby continue to exist as a Private Aided Educational Institution as per the existing rules, regulations, grant-in-aid code etc.
Option 4 (in case of a withdrawal of interest) – Withdrawing the willingness given earlier to either Option 1 or Option 2 and thereby to take back the surrendered staff and run the institution as a Private Aided Educational Institutions per the existing rules, regulation, grant-in-aid code etc.
- Is the Acquisition Compulsory?
The acquisition is not compulsory at all and it’s the institution’s decision to stay independent or to come under Government management. Only the “Willing” institutions need to send an application in writing to initiate the process.
The institutions that are finding it hard to operate, can get into better shape through this merger. Under Government management, the infrastructure, amenities, CBSE syllabus, Better staff with all applicable norms will be provided.
- Is the Merger permanent?
This is not permanent. The institution can decide to move back from the merger at any point in time. the decisions stand with the institution, totally.
- More Fees Burden on Students!
APSFMRC, APSHEC boards have already decided the fee structure for private schools/colleges. So, any unaided school/college that charges extra fees, will be dealt with according to the Govt. norms. The aided school or college that choose to come under Government management will obviously have the low fee structure of the Govt school/college and have better infrastructure.
- Once the school becomes unaided, students willing to continue in the unaided school, will not get the benefit of Amma Vodi?
In cases where schools are about to close down, teaching activities and mid-day meal provision will continue until students are shifted to alternative schools. Students who wish to continue in the same unaided school will get benefits of Amma Vodi, as applicable.
- Staff will be absorbed in Government?
The aided staff only will need to be surrendered in the case, of a school/college that decides to surrender the Government aid. In such cases, the Staff will be absorbed by the Government and local body schools. This process will be conducted through a transparent web-counseling method.
- Fee burden on Parents?
The Govt. of Andhra Pradesh through various schemes like Amma Vodi. Vidya Kanuka, Vasathi Deevena, Gorumuda, Nadu-Nedu has strengthened the infrastructure of Govt schools and that has resulted positively through student enrollments. The Government has made its intentions clear that Quality Education is a basic right for all. The fees burden of parents have been shared by the Govt. through schemes like Amma Vodi, and there is also a cap on private school and college fees. It’s highly unlikely that this Govt. will burden parents with higher fees.
- The Government will have to spend a lot on the teacher’s salaries and their new recruitment, which might not be as par with their current status-quo?
The Government is already paying the salaries of the aided staff, which will be the same or over it. The staff will further get all the Government facilities as they will officially be a Government employee now. In a way, this is regularising the staff.
- The aided institute might lose its status quo if they opt-in for the merger?
No. The aided school or college will not lose their status quo. The name/brand or original founder’s name will be the same as before.
- What happens to the property of the school?
All the movable/immovable property of the school will be surrendered in case of a merger and the property can only be used for public purposes or the institution’s purposes.
The aided schools that decide to remain independent and become private schools, will have to obtain permission from the Government, in case they want to dispose of any property held by the institution. This decision will protect the rights of the students only. All the property can only be used for the purpose it was donated or bought or contributed for.
In case the aided school decides to surrender the aided staff and become independent, they will just have to surrender the aided staff, not any property.