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Private Schools for the Poor Development, Provision, and Choice in India

Budget Private Schools, School Choice, Unrecognized Schools

Across the world, millions of poor families are sending their children to schools with fees as low as $1/month. In the city of Hyderabad, 73% of families in slum areas send their children to private school. This report examines private enrollment throughout India to explain why private schools for the poor exist and in which cases they are most likely to have the largest effect on enrollment. Covering every state and region of India, the study utilizes a macro-level analysis of various independent factors such as government spending on education, political opinion, economic data, and cultural variables to determine their relationship to private schools in the developing world. In addition, case studies in Hyderabad and Mumbai trace the history of school development.

Key findings include the following:

1. Private schooling in India is demand-driven. Parents choose private education because they believe they provide better education and future opportunities for their children than the government schools. Supply-side factors have little statistical relationship to private schools; private schools exist because parents demand them.

2. There is no statistical relationship between a particular region’s wealth and private enrollment. Private schools in India are as likely to exist in poor areas as rich ones.

3. Political factors play a serious role in private education choice. Government spending on education has an inverse relationship with private enrollment: the more governments spend on education in a given state, the lower private enrollment is. In addition, public opinion of a local government matters—the lower opinion of the government is related to higher private enrollment. Finally, there is a major statistical link between teacher absence in government schools and private enrollment.

4. Certain cultural factors affect private enrollment. Hyderabad illustrates how English language instruction drives private schooling; Mumbai shows how in slum areas, private schools may be the poor’s only choice, and the macro-level analysis shows a strong link between Muslim population and private enrollment.

5. Political and regulatory differences between states affect the size of the private sector. For example, the requirement in Maharastra to be a registered society or trust makes establishing a private school more cumbersome.

6. Suggested related reading is included as part of GMC’s Enterprising Schools project.

The popularity of private schooling as a choice for low-income parents suggests that private education is likely to be prevalent throughout the developing world, not just in India.

However, existing literature and this report do little to explore private school quality—the most pressing future research need is measuring school quality and communicating it to parents. On a larger scale, these findings reinforce the larger notion that market-based approaches which focus on consumer demand should drive development strategies.

Ross Baird, Gray Matters Capital, May 2009

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Private Schools for the Poor Development, Provision, and Choice in India”

  1. ghanashyam sonar
    10 May 2010 at 00:11

    pl how to search some statistics?private school india and gov.compravencive data previous tenth year.
    pl u send me

  2. School Choice
    11 May 2010 at 00:19

    You can check the ASER Reports of this and previous years available on their website(asercentre.org/ )
    Along with that you can look for studies done by James Tooley, Geeta Kingdon and CORD.

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