Vantage point

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Privatisation of Primary Education

Everyone agrees that primary education in our country is an abysmal state, especially so for the poor. But talk of privatisation in primary education and squeamishness sets in. The inertial mindset resulting from a socialist upbringing makes most people equate privatisation with exploitation, dishonesty and a certain inhuman element which is mever rationally justified. People argue that though privatisation in primary education may lead to swankier schools for rich, it will do little to help the poor who dwell in slums and in villages.

It shows how little they understand the term "privatisation".

Through Naveen Mandva's blog, I came across this superb study by James Tooley which talks about the role and the effect of privatisation in primary education in slums in Delhi.

It is long, but worth reading, and shows how the only cure for the ailing primary education system in a rickety governmental delivery mechanism is free markets. Not "big evil capitalist corporations", but actual free market, where the customers (parents) can exert desired pressure on the service providers to ensure superior quality of education for their children.

The study compares 4 sorts of schools in slums - government, private aided, private unaided recognised, private unaided unrecognised.

Private unaided unrecognised are the schools which are rendered illegal by the licensing and excessive regulation. These schools are not funded by the taxpayer, and in fact, people running them might be thrown in jail.

Now a statist would say that government schools, which are answerable to the people, through government, would have the most accountability and would thus be the most efficient, sincere and successful. While the unaided and unrecognised school, are not accountable to bureaucrats, and since they are not recognised, they are not answerale to any education board either. Thus this lack of accountability would make them inefficient, and greedy.

The results are startling, and prove that the most effective accountability is that of the market.

P.S - While reading the report, remember that the 2% education cess that you pay on taxes goes into funding the government schools and the private aided schools. Sorry, I meant that's where you are told it goes.