Private Education in India

Sebastian Mallaby has a good column on the explosion in private schooling in India and the implications for theories of development:

More than four out of five Indian engineering students attend
private colleges, whose potential growth seems limitless. …

Something similar is happening to the Indian
school system…Since the early 1990s the percentage of 6-to-14-year-olds
attending private school has jumped from less than a tenth to roughly a
quarter of the total in that cohort, according to India’s National
Council of Applied Economic Research. And this number may be on the low
side. James Tooley of the University of Newcastle in Britain has found
that in some Indian slums about two-thirds of the children attend
private schools, many of which are not officially recognized and so may
escape the attention of nationwide surveys.

The causes of this
private-school explosion shed interesting light on debates about
development, not just in India but throughout the poor world. The
standard assumption among anti-poverty campaigners is that education
leads to development…the recent private-education boom in India shows how causality can also
flow the other way…Since India embraced the
market in the early 1990s, parents have acquired a reason to invest in
education; they have seen the salaries in the go-go private sector, and
they want their children to have a shot at earning them… Once parents understand that education buys their kids into the new
India, they demand it so avidly that public money for schoolrooms
becomes almost superfluous.

… Apparently unconnected development policies —
cuts in tariffs and oppressive business regulation, or projects to
build roads and power grids — can sometimes stimulate new educational
enrollment at least as much as direct investments in colleges or

See my earlier post for some more references.

I know that we have a number of readers in and from India so comments are open if you have further information.


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