Poor parents, concerned with the quality of state run schools, are turning increasingly to private education in India.
It has long been assumed that responsibility for meeting the educational needs of poor people lies with the state. Yet in India low-income families are turning to private providers to educate their children. Education authorities which are starved of resources struggle to deliver education for all (EFA), and private sector involvement in serving the educational needs of poor student deserves wider discussion.
A report from CfBT looks at evidence from Hyderabad in India in order to challenge the assumption that private schools serve only wealthy families and are thus irrelevant to poverty reduction debates.
The World Bank estimates that 27 percent of all Indian children enrolled in schools are being privately educated. Figures from education authorities in the state of Andhra Pradesh show that 61 percent of pupils in schools in the capital Hyderabad attend schools in the private sector.
Competition between private schools is intense, yet most make a profit. On average, each school charges the equivalent of about £2 per month and has a student to teacher ratio of 29:1. Most pupils’ fathers are daily-paid labourers or market traders earning considerably less than the minimum wage. Thirty percent of their mothers are illiterate.
Researchers talked with parents, pupils and teachers in 15 schools drawn randomly from the many hundreds of private schools meeting the needs of low-income families in Hyderabad. They found that:
1)Even though some government schools provide free uniforms, lunches and books, instead of sending their children to these schools, poor parents choose to pay fees, even though the costs for each child may be a tenth of monthly income.
2)Private schools cover the whole curriculum and offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities such as science...