As you all might have read in the papers, Pratham recently published it’s 2009 ASER report which maps the progress (or for that matter in some cases lack of it) in the education sector in rural India. The research, the biggest such private survey in India maps 16,291 villages, 338,027 households and 6,91,734 children.
We draw a number of conclusions from this study such as, on the one hand our success in ensuring access, with a high and increasing gross enrollment ratio, and on the other the still existing abysmal quality of education with only 52% of Std 5 students able to read a standard 2 text.
However, the most important conclusion to be drawn, as James Tooley suggests, is ASER’s findings on private education. Close to 22% students attend private schools and they receive better education than government schools even if we were to adjust for other factors such as the socio-economic and educational backgrounds of students. More so, private schools impart this education at a fraction of the cost as compared to government schools. So isn’t it obvious that we should promote private schooling by using government allocation for education in such a way so as to involve this burgeoning affordable private sector to provide cost-effective quality education. One way to do this is through school vouchers.
Can you imagine the same pool of money will allow more children to access better quality education!
To learn more about what Tooley says about this low-cost private school revolution read his article ‘Adding Value to Education‘ in The Time of India.