Panel Paper: What Can the Private Sector Offer Indian Schools?

Monday, June 13, 2016 : 12:30 PM
Clement House, 5th Floor, Room 02 (London School of Economics)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Abhijeet Singh, University of Oxford
Do private schools in India really produce more learning, or do they deepen social and economic divides without adding much in terms of actual skills and education? And how may the private sector play a productive role in alleviating the learning crisis in Indian schools? Based on a review of the existing literature, including previous work by the author, this column sheds light on these questions, and discusses avenues for future research that may help understand how private players may be leveraged to address the learning crisis in the country. I specifically focus on three aspects: first, I review existing evidence on the causal effect of private schooling on learning outcomes; second, I examine current evidence about the effect of private schools on issues of equity; and, finally, I discuss, given the current state of knowledge about the state of education in India, which dimensions the private sector can make a substantive contribution in adding to learning. I focus on four critical dimensions on the way that the private sector may affect average learning levels in India: first, the implications of private schools, including especially low fee private schools, on learning levels and equity; second, the possibility of transfers of innovation and practice across the private and public schooling sectors; third, the possibility of explicit funding of students educated in schools under private management but funded through public finances, notably through possible voucher designs, reservations in private schools under the Right to Education Act and the setting up of private-public partnership (PPP) schools run along Charter models; and finally the role of the private sector in supplementing the public sector, given abysmally low productivity in terms of learning, through for example private tuition and supplementary remedial education.