Saturday, November 05, 2005

CBSE supports families with a single girl child

Consider this pretty general question: Can the 'chooser' of a certain action be a different entity from the 'implementer' of that action, if all the risks of that action fall on the latter?

Let me give you an example: can your spouse promise a friend that you will drop her -- I mean, the friend -- at the airport/railway station/home at 1:30 a.m. on a weeknight? Without asking you ? You would be pissed, wouldn't you?

Well, our government has chosen to do something similar.

In an interesting experiment, the Central Board of Secondary Education, CBSE, has mandated that every single girl child (a girl with no siblings) in its affiliated schools must get free education.

It appears that private schools were not consulted before this order was issued. It also appears that the schools are not being compensated for the financial loss that arises due to this decision. Naturally, the private school administrators are worried, pissed and outraged.

While I welcome and support the goals of this move by CBSE, I am also worried about what the outcome might be. The reason is simple. If private schools are being asked to do something that results in a financial loss, it is easy to guess what they will do. They will skew their admission policies so that they can avoid taking the very students who will cause this loss! So, this move can actually be counterproductive.


  1. Anonymous said...

    This is a ridiculous move, one that I would strongly protest.

    If the CBSE board or the central govt. backed up this move with a 100% grant, then that is okay.

  2. Anonymous said...

    It is ridiculous toi call this a ridiculous move. I is a good move. How badly it will be implemented cannot be used as a reason to diss the move. Thge schools will have to be MADE to behave. There is no other way. You cannot not implement something as important and as necessary as this just because you think it's financially unviable. If that is the logic of rule making, you may as well not have any. The girl-child needs support, and forceful support at that. The schools better fall in line. Note, this is one of the most effective ways of solving another problem India is ignoring: the fast diminishing number of girl children in this country.

  3. Anonymous said...

    It is a ridiculous move. You wouldn't like the government ordering you to take in renters in your house without your permission now would you? Schools are businesses. Unless the government compensates these schools, this initiative is doomed.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Wait a minute... what about a family with multiple daughters and no sons?

    Wouldn't such a family need more financial help in educating their daughters than a family with just a single child? After all, they have more children to take care of; therefore, they have less resources to pay the fees.

    Also, don't all women deserve greater access to education (to bring it up to par with men's access)? Why just the ones with no siblings?

    Education of women, as well as men, is a laudable goal, and one which will help advance the society as a whole. [1) Why waste the brain power of half the population? 2) Educated women, even if they do not choose to participate in the workforce, benefit society as a whole by helping their children get a better education. I could write a whole blog.]

    The methods proposed by CBSE will probably not help women get an education. As nanopolitan notes, the scheme provides a financial dis-incentive to accepting girls with no siblings. If the schools have no way of knowing which applicants have no siblings, then the scheme is even worse, by providing a dis-incentive to accepting girls in general.

    While I dislike the concept of quotas, a quota scheme would be more effective in furthering the goal of giving women equal access to education.

    Neither scheme will increase the number of girl children in India, either. I think the desire to have sons is deeply ingrained in society. The opinions of the society as a whole will have to shift.

    Of course, the best and brightest young men are welcome to emmigrate to the USA to find more opportunities and a wife.

    How likely is the multiple daughters/no sons scenario? I personally know eleven families with multiple children, either only boys or only girls. One is my own... I am the oldest of three daughters, with no brothers.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Some schools and colleges are business and their business is to make money, education be damned!

  6. Anonymous said...

    abi - I have written a lengthly counter argument to your view (also there is a lengthly debate between me and Badri) in my blog - it is however in Tamil. See,

    If you can't follow the fonts, let me know - I will get the gist of it in English. This is an important issue and needs to be debated.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Mridula: There are several bad apples in the education business - you know more than anyone else. Government needs to work out sensible methods to fix that problem.

    That has nothing to do with the current unilateral - and may I say, quite illegal - decision of the CBSE to enforce tution waivers for single girl children.

    To justify the current move on the basis of the Amitys and IIPMs is quite unfair on thousands of private schools which have done a stellar job in providing quality education to tens of thousands of students in this country - something the government has failed woefully in.

  8. Abi said...

    Badri, TDU, Anon, Gawker, Mridula, Venkat: thank you all for your comments.

    I do not agree that schools are businesses. I only hope Gawker and Mridula were joking when they said that. I would like education for the age group 6-15 (or 6-17 in you include Plus 2) to be free and publicly funded. It is only because the government is not able to provide quality education to so many children (nearly 200 million!) that private schools have stepped in to fill the void in the public system. From this perspective, the private sector is serving a large constituency of the Indian public, and it is unfair for the government to burden them with more and more stupid regulations like this one.

    Remember, the parents who opt to send their children to private schools have already paid their dues -- er, taxes -- to the government for its public schools. If private schools are asked to provide free education to all the single-child girls, and a fraction of its students (who are poor and from the neighbourhood), I simply think it is wrong. It imposes an un-necessary and unfair burden on the remaining children's parents. Also, as Anon put it, what about parents with two girls? This list goes on and on.

    Having said all this, there is this unfortunate fact that there are many schools in our country (but which constitute only a small fraction of the whole of the private sector) that seem to treat education as a business; of course, they are cheating because, by law, schools cannot be businesses that are run for a profit. But, it is also true that it is the bad apples that stay in your memory for a long time!

  9. Anonymous said...

    Hi Abinandhan,

    I visit your blog often and wanted to post a link to an article in connection with this post. I had posted this in Badris blog but just wanted to drop in the msg eher as well.

    While everyone is debating the free clause introduced recently look into the following link

    It raises lot of relevant questions. I admit that the current ruling can be termed plain silly given the impracticality(even a cursory thought reflects that) of the suggestions. That said,look at the much more reasonable suggestion(issue in the link) and the attitude of the schools towarsd such a ruling.

    Best regards,

  10. Anonymous said...

    CBSE had done a brilliant job by announcing free education for single girl child but what is the use of that announcement if it is not practical. I request cbse to either take action to get free education for meritorious single girl child in all private schools or don’t give such golden dreams to parents like us!