Protests about Year-1 admission, Grade Five cut-off marks and corruption in school admissions in the news are all driven by the desire of parents to give the best possible education to their children. Governmentâ€™s solution seems to be to open more national schools (or schools controlled by the center). Minister Susil Premajayanth has even stated that provincial schools will be converted to national schools in stages.
However, it is an open secret that national schools or otherwise will not be what they are if not for additional resources brought in by influential or wealthy parents and/or alumni makes some schools more popular than others. According to an alumnus, Royal College receives Rs: 15,000 from the government to cover electricity costs but the schoolâ€™s electricity bill is 3-4 lakhs a month. The difference, essentially the full cost, is met by the School Development Society or other school-associated society.Â Not just Royal College, even the average school finds that Â governmentâ€™s allocations are insufficient to meet the basic needs of the schools.Â In that context, the government naming more schools as national schools wonâ€™t work without a realistic estimate of costs of maintaining a quality school and ways of meeting them for all schools irrespective of meaningless labels.