The teachers union in the Indian state of Karnataka worked with the government to promote public schools in the face of increasing privatisation and commercialisation of schools at an event at a primary school in Bangalore last month. An enrolment campaign was organised with the slogan, 'save, strengthen and transform government schools into neighbourhood common schools.'

The education minister for the province Mr K. Ratnakar, encouraged parents to enrol their children in the government schools and reminded them that government schools have qualified and competent teachers to ensure quality education to children. He also promised adequate infrastructure including free school meals, uniforms and teaching materials.

Education activist and academic Dr Nirinjanaradhya told parents: 'This is an historic and significant event in the context of increasing privatization and commercialization of school education by market forces, which is a matter of great concern. Education being the fundamental right of every child, the state has a fundamental obligation and duty to ensure equitable quality education to all children. Government schools are by default the common democratic school for children of all caste, gender and social groups.'

Education in India is still desparately underfunded and many parents choose to send their children to so-called low fee private schools, often staffed by unqualified people and in very poor conditions. It is to be hoped that the Karnataka state government will keep its promise to provide adequate funding for its schools so that all the children in the state can exercise their right to an education. As Dr Aradhya said: 'strengthening public education by strengthening government schools should be the priority agenda for the state government'.