The Affordable Private School?

I just turned my TV on only to hear this heartrending news: An overpacked ‘school’ bus, carrying 102 children from one Millat Grammar School of Faisalabad went down a chasm on the motorway near Kallar Kahar hills. At the time of writing this, 31 lives–including the school (vice?) principal, the driver and the conductor of the bus–have already been reported lost. Everyone else in the bus is critically injured.

The DCO, top bureaucrat in the district, was on air. An immediate inquiry was ordered, he said, and the ‘culprits’ will be punished within a week. Hmm!!

This is a country in which over 40% schools are, like Millat Grammar School, private schools. This school seems to have the profile of what some academics/policy analysts favourably call the affordable private schools or the low fees private schools. These schools are touted as part of a dynamic private school market. Glowing tributes are paid to these schools for being efficient, for delivering more bang for the buck. Well, here then is a deadly bang just delivered to the families of the now dead children.

Many influential policy pundits argue against regulating these schools. This is just an extreme example of the absence of regulation. Look at that damn ‘school bus.’ If there is a dynamic school market, then there is also an even dynamic damned ‘bus brakes’ market out there. And the driver of the bus made the wrong choice. The principal made the wrong choice. The school made the wrong choice. While everyone saved some money, 31 people lost their lives. Rational and deadly! that’s how the market sometime works.

There is so much else going on in the name of [private] education. Yet, several big-wig analysts are content with counting the math and science scores of children from public and private schools, finding the latter higher, and waving the scientific-looking evidence of their superiority in our faces.

“No Regulation! Leave them Alone! They are doing great! It is a market out there!,” They shout.

Someone whispers into the ear of the district boss, “Hey, my dear poor little DCO! what are you talking about? Inquiry? culprits? punishment?…duh!!! ”

May the families muster enough courage to bear this irreparable loss!

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

2 Responses to “The Affordable Private School?”

  1. Update: The death toll from this accident is now increased to 38 at the time of writing this update.


  1. The ATS and APS? | Just questions! - 27/09/2011

    […] Incidentally, I just found that there indeed exists a Pakistan Automobile Manufacturers Association.  Its site is flushed with the pictures of the four-wheelers that its esteemed members produce.  Here is a list of its members. It also has a page on safety and quality standards for the two wheelers and the three wheelers.  That’s all, only the two and three wheelers!!  But that is not as far as the institutions running on public monies are concerned.  Like many other nations on this planet, Pakistan’s tax payer too is supporting a Standards and Quality Control Authority (SQCA) working directly under the Ministry of Science and Technology.  It is not clear, if this authority exercises any jurisdiction on the cottage industry that makes the ATS in Pakistan ticks. But most likely there is no interaction between the Low Cost Bus Market and this authority.  Why should we not blame PAMA or SQCA or, broadly speaking, the state itself for not adequately protecting the public interest and hold them directly responsible for the loss of 38 precious lives. The PM, the president, the CM and the governor of Punjab should go a step further than simply expressing their grief.  They should also openly acknowledge the failure the failure of state that led to the loss of 38 lives in a ravine bear Kalar Kahar. […]

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