New Delhi: Bibek Debroy Committee constituted by Government of India to restructure and revamp the antiquated Railway System of India has recommended immediate integration of the existing 168 Railway schools into the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan set-up. The higher education component, including the centralized training institutes are addressed in depth.
The Railway Schools across the country are estimated to provide education to 27,216 children of Railway employees and also to 38,441 who are not the children of Railway employees.
Historically, pre-Independence, these schools needed to be set up because there was a market failure in areas where new Railway lines were being built, or where new Railway stations and workshops set up.
There is a geographical concentration of these schools because of historical reasons, and they are not necessarily concentrated in the most deprived parts of the country. For instance, there are several Railway schools in undivided Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. There aren’t that many in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Rajasthan or the North-East.
In contrast, there are 1094 Kendriya Vidayalayas run by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathana and they are much more evenly spread throughout the country. IR itself supports 82 Kendriya Vidyalayas. There are also norms for setting up new Kendriya Vidyalayas. Outside Kendriya Vidayalyas, in places where there are railway colonies, other schools, including private ones, exist now. Therefore, any argument about market failure is difficult to sustain, as per the Committee’s report.
Bibek Debroy Committee favoured immediate integration of the existing Railway schools into the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan set-up.
So far as the needs of Railway employees are concerned, there are efficient ways of subsidizing the education of their children in alternative schools, including private schools, instead of Indian Railways running the schools itself.