An Exploratory Study to Understand the Scope of Privately Managed Elementary Schools in India

Pulak Das


This study attempted to understand if at the national aggregate level Indian households’
preferences for their children’s school level education were shifting from Government to
privately managed schools and whether such privatised schooling was scalable for mass
education required for accelerated diffusion of elementary education across the country.
Based on time series data on the numbers of schools and their enrolments over the period
from 1993-94 to 2007-08, the study found both the number of schools and their enrolments
increased abruptly around year 2000-01 when mission mode programme of “Sarva Shikhsa
Abhiyan” was launched, indicating a change in environment and strong supply side impact
On the growth of student enrolments in elementary schools. Analysis of student enrolments in
Government and in privately managed schools indicated growing households’ preferences for
privately managed schools. However, though in terms of households’ choices, demands for
privately managed schools were growing yet for faster diffusion of elementary education
across the country, privately managed elementary schools did not turn out a good substitute
to low cost Government managed schools. At the total national aggregate level the market for
elementary education showed the prospects of high growth with simultaneous presence of a
collective learning environment for the population and a low private cost based learning
system for the individual at household level. It appears faster progress towards raising the
enrolment ratio of Indian children in elementary schools which has been abysmally low for so
many years, could be achieved by adopting more innovative approach towards their finance
and governance.

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