27 October, 2020

The Jury Is Still Out

Do private schools outdo government schools? No proof exists for that.

Singled Out
The classroom of the goverment school in a village inside Dudhwa National Park, Lakhimpur Kheri, UP
Photograph by Vijay Pandey
The Jury Is Still Out
outlookindia.com
2017-09-30T12:20:39+05:30

The phenomenon of private schools expanding at an annual rate of 35 per cent naturally raises one question: are they better than state-run ones? One might also ask if India needs more private schools than public (government) institutions. It’s about time to clear the air over available data-based evidence on whether private schools are worth their money.

The answers are linked to a simple truth: India has made schooling universal and compulsory. It’s not the same thing as making good-quality education universal. So, a general perception of abysmal state education quality—quite common in recent decades—means more and more highly priced private schools.

There is little available by way of national studies that comprehensively compare the two systems. The most widely accepted survey—the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) which is in its 11th year—measures overall learning levels among Indian pupils. The picture, as it states in its 2016 report, is “pretty disappointing”. According to ASER 2016, data from 589 rural...

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