Equal Opportunity Schools, An Indus Trust Initiative
The Right to Education Act, 2009, directs that all private un-aided schools will
provide free education to 25 percent children belonging to the under-privileged
and poor sections of society, from Grade 1 to 8. Moreover, schools will follow a
Common State Curriculum wherein the state language will be compulsory, and the school
calendar will be common for all schools in the state. A key feature of the RTE Act
is that education will be inclusive, and to help the process of integration, a period
of eight years is given, starting from Grade 1. Schools must accept this Act in
the spirit of nation-building and observe it in letter and spirit.
This Note argues a case for schools to go beyond the RTE Act by exercising the option
of providing Equal Opportunity Schools, as an alternative to inclusive education.
The Indus Trust has set up one such a model school on its campus in Bangalore (Sarjapura),
and is in the process of setting up similar schools in Hyderabad and Pune.
Concept of Indus Equal Opportunity Schools
The school provides the same quality of education as the mainstream school at a
fraction of the cost. For a cost of education at $ 40 a day, the Equal Opportunity
School provides the same quality at 10 cents a day! This has been made possible
by using low cost building materials, and by means of technology and creativity
to reduce the number of teachers and operating costs by up to 70 percent.
The school strength is 600, and the daily session is conducted in two shifts to
economize on infrastructure and teacher costs. The present state is 300 and will
increase incrementally every year by 50.
The teachers are selected from the same social and economic milieu as the students,
and trained in international education and subject knowledge at the Indus Training
and Research Institute. This ensures a deep relationship between teachers and students,
and after-school support for the students.
The entire campus has wifi connectivity, with all children being provided with laptops.
There are only 25 children in each class. The school provides education from grade
1 to grade 12 and follows the State Board /CBSE syllabus but with an international
curriculum. Academic rigour is high as the students are being prepared to access
the best colleges and universities in India and abroad.
International systems, processes, benchmarks and best practices are embedded in
the curriculum. The poor must serve the poor; and therefore, all students are expected
to do community service for 10 days in a year. Adult literacy education is conducted
for parents to ensure they appreciate the education being given to their children.
In order to value education parents should pay Rs 5000 per annum all inclusive including
nutritious lunch. For selected parents who cannot afford this fees, further concessions
A special experiential curriculum in entrepreneurship is being developed from grade
1 upwards with a view to provide students entrepreneurial competencies. In addition,
planning is afoot to raise a campus company to be managed and led by students and
teachers to conduct social business for purposes of financial sustainability and
honing entrepreneurial skills like risk-taking and innovation.
Mainstream students are integrated to enable achieving the following leadership
- 5 national golfers, 5 national riders, 5 national swimmers, 3 junior chess masters,
and 3 snooker/billiard players.
- Preparation of teams for Science and Math Olympiads.
- 80 hours of community service including preparation of a reflective journal.
- Musical and dance performances to revive Kannada art and culture.
5 percent meritorious students in the Equal Opportunity School are provided free
scholarships from grade 9 to 12 in the mainstream school.
Proposed Financial Model
Basic infrastructure and facilities to be provided by mainstream school from its
Operative costs to be met from fees @ Rs 5000 per annum.
Entire operative costs can be met by the state@ Rs 7000 per annum, thus making education
free for all students.
Advantages of Equal Opportunity Schools
Such schools provide high quality education at international level at costs affordable
to the poor and the state.
Education is ensured till students graduate from school. In the RTE Act, education
ends abruptly at grade 8, thus narrowing quality options for the poor for further
Inclusivity is ensured by integrating mainstream students for achieving leadership
objectives, and providing free scholarship to merit students from grade 9 onwards.
Nearly three times the number of students are provided quality education vis-a-vis
the provisions of the RTE Act. For example, at the rate of 25 percent enrolment,
a 4 school with 1500 students will need to provide free education to about 250 students
up to grade 8 only. On the other hand, the Equal Opportunity School will provide
schooling for 600 students; i.e., 40 percent more right up to grade 12.
In addition to education students are equipped with practical experience in entrepreneurship
The Equal Opportunity School will go a long way in providing sustainable quality
education to underprivileged students beyond the provision of the RTE Act, 2009.
Lt Gen (Retd) Arjun Ray, PVSM, VSM Chief Executive