Education, a human right or a business?

The concept of education has evolved over time, but what gains attention of people is the way it is being ‘sold’. Education being a human right, is supposed to be affordable by all, but the cost of education does not imply education as a human right.

The rising cost of education compels parents to rely on loans in order to educate their children. A number of students also apply for scholarships and grants, in order to get concession for school fees, higher education fees etc.

The cost of education has adverse effects on the society. As education is becoming expensive, parents and students are relying more on loans, this, in turn, is giving rapid rise to the total debt in the society. Since loans have to be repaid some students participate in national level programs (spell bee contests)and community service activities in order to avail these opportunities.

The job opportunities in many industries both in the service sector and manufacturing sector, are offered to educated youth. As the job opportunities are more for the educated youth, there is a growth in number of educational institutions. There are businessmen who are expanding their businesses in the educational sector, owing to the increasing need for educational institutions.

Nowadays even for the preliminary level education and entry into schools, the institutions are charging fees ranging between lakhs. After the child is admitted in the school, there are a number of fees to be paid like development fees, annual fees, building fees, maintenance fees etc.

Many philanthropists have said that we are living in the era of  “education as means to business”. The very meaning of imparting knowledge among students is lost behind wealth creation and profit maximisation motive of  the institution.

Factors influencing the rising cost of tuition fees:

  1. Inflation – Inflation affects the standards of living, school and educational institutions require to update technology in campus, bring in new equipments and distribute generous income to teachers. According to a survey, teachers were being paid very low in the olden days, but as the cost of education has risen, educational institutions are available to provide higher pay to teachers.
  2. Demand – A very understandable factor is that demand influences price directly, in the education sector, the higher the demand the higher goes the cost. Since the demand to pursue education is increasing about a huge number of students, the educational institutions do not worry about the fewer number of students who cannot afford, because they are aware that there are a large number of students who are willing to pay higher costs in order to avail the facility. Educational institutions claim that they charge higher fees in order to equip more amenities and pay staff salaries.
  3. Scholarships – In case of educational institutions that do not get financial aid and funding, when students avail scholarships, they are indirectly causing a rise in the tuition fees for the remaining students. This is a popular issue in government institutions also.
  4. Job Potential – The industry believes that the job potential of an individual is positively impacted by the educational qualifications. This aspect has made the demand for education incline like a rocket. And people are ready to pay high fees and take loans in order to afford education.

Many policy makers think that it is fair enough to increase the cost of education because it helps educational institutions to improve the quality and standard of education given to the students. The cost helps institutions to add on infrastructural facilities, laboratory equipments, necessities, eateries, classroom enhancement, enabling Wi-Fi in the campus, enhancing the library source by including national and international journalsm for free access by the students, tying up with reputed institutions to offer exclusive courses and trainings to the students and many more amenities.

For the above advantages, socialists and policymakers have defended the statement “it is fair to increase the cost of education”.

On the other hand, philanthropists have a different view where they claim that just in order to improve the quality and standard of education for the mass that can afford it, institutions are ignoring the mass of students that find it very difficult to afford education in order to pursue their academic aspirations. This means that the concentration is on the interests of fewer students and not all students, rather education being a basic necessity and not a luxury should be priced in a manner that all can have access to it.

The Government Regulatory bodies and Department Of Education should take this matter as concern and establish rules and policies on institutions that are charging very high fees, also should provide affordable opportunities of this human right.

  • B Pratusha

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