Myopic to say that only Delhi residents’ children should be admitted to schools run by Delhi government
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia is in favour of allowing only the wards of Delhi residents to get admitted in state government schools. Sisodia believes that allowing students from states sharing borders with the national capital has meant the neighbouring states do little to improve the condition of government-run education in their jurisdictions. It is also true that allowing students from, say, Noida (Uttar Pradesh, or UP) or Faridabad (Haryana) to get admitted in Delhi government schools puts pressure on the school infrastructure funded by the government of the national capital territory. But, unmet education needs of the youth isn’t a problem that can be contained within states—i.e., the lack high-quality education infrastructure in UP isn’t just the state’s problem.
In the long run, unrealised productivity potential, surge in crime, the need for more welfare channels and other such consequences of a pervasive lack of high-quality education infrastructure mean the socioeconomic costs of a child in Noida denied admission in a Delhi government school are borne by the entire nation, including Delhi.
While an UP needs to improve its school ecosystem, the fact is that the Delhi government will be doing the national capital and the nation grave disservice by mandating that only children of Delhi residents can get into the schools it runs. In fact, a better way to ensure that a neighbouring state is penalised for its inaction on improving public-funded school education would be to publish a list of all students from UP/Haryana enrolled in Delhi schools and push for compensation via recalibrating central transfers. To this end, the Delhi government must collect relevant data from students and their families. The Delhi government must remember that federal principles also include duties to the federation.