At a recent policy meet for MPs, we presented the following model to introduce education vouchers: There are three types of schools in the Indian system–1. government schools; 2. private aided schools; 3. private unaided schools (which can be recognised or unrecognised). Start the first phase with private aided schools–give vouchers to students coming out of PAS in the 5th standard for entering into the 6th. The vouchers can be used only among the PAS, not in any other type of schools. Very limited choice and competition in the first phase, the primary goal being to learn the logistics of the voucher system and how to manage and run it.

Two years later give vouchers to government schoool students entering the 6th standard, which can be used in government schools or PAS. During the two years (along with the launch of the first phase), give more autonomy to government schools to prepare for their new role and respond to changes in demands by students and parents.

Two years after this, bring in private unaided schools; the whole system for middle and secondary education runs on vouchers. In the last phase give vouchers from the 1st or even the KG level, which can be used in any school.

Basically, a slow phase in with minimal disturbance in the beginning and then expand the scope of choice and competition and thereby improve access and quality. There is really a great need to think about practicable voucher models that can be offered to any interested education minister, just ready for implementation.

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The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Parth Shah

Parth J Shah is founder president of Centre for Civil Society, a think tank that promotes choice and accountability across public and private sectors. He is co-founder and Director of Indian School of Public Policy. Parth’s research and advocacy work focuses on the themes of economic freedom, choice and competition in education, property rights approach to the environment and new public governance. He recently edited Liberalism in India.