We had a meeting with senior officials in the Education Department regarding the idea of vouchers and its relevance. I stand corrected for some of my mis-judgments regarding the attitude of govt officials towards reforms in education especially on the govt delivery front. Here are a few glimpses. One official pointed out the Constitutional mandate for vouchers given that they promote equity within the system, equality of opportunities. Another official pointed out the thorn in the reforms, the teachers’ unions and how if a govt school has to be contracted out, then the teachers cannot be bundled along with the infrastructure of the school. Another official pointed out how the aid provided to some private schools can be redesigned as voucher amounts and provided to the poor.
But the gem was this: a politician says that let us put across a scheme like this, if a female student gets 12 vouchers (that she has attended 12 grades) then she stands to get financial assistance for marriage from the Social Welfare department! Encouragement to get educated and then married!
For those uninitiated into vouchers, here is a good introduction to the topic here. For those who are still wondering about the effects of voucher experiments around the world, go here for a thumbs-up to the positive effects of school choice.
The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.