The Prime Minister's directive to the education and other ministries to take steps to make sure that all children are able to enroll into schools in their localities is certainly laudable. This is normal practice in many countries and has helped to ensure higher enrolments. The education ministry, in line with the Prime Minister's directive, has announced a 40 percent quota for local admission seekers of public and private secondary schools. This announcement, we think, should have been preceded by some serious homework.
Ideally, making education available in the locality where a child lives would solve several problems. It will ease the unnecessary anxiety parents and their wards go through every year trying to get into a school of their choice. It will lower the time and cost of travel to and from school. The huge gridlock created by traffic generated by school goers will also be lessened to a great extent.
However, there is a strong rationale for seriously examining the idea. We feel there are preconditions that ought to be addressed before the idea is implemented. In this case, the main challenge is to ensure that the standard of learning is the same in all schools, which is hardly the case in the present context. For private schools in particular, the discrepancy in standard is quite glaring, making thousands of prospective students vie for the limited seats in institutions of good repute. The government must first adopt a strategy to monitor the quality of education in all schools, public or private, before implementing this new directive. Otherwise, a good idea will not be able to deliver the results that are expected from its implementation.