Research Papers

Paper presented at the International Colloquium "Global Freedom? The Future of International Governance" organised by the Liberal Institute of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Potsdam, Germany 9–11 November 2007

India has a two-tier system of government and private schools with all the attendant social, political and economic problems. Those who can afford, go to private schools; those who cannot, go to government schools. The children of the poor have no option but the poorly functioning government schools. This gross inequality of schooling opportunities needs to be addressed immediately. One route is to pressurise the government to increase its resource commitments and improve its delivery of education.

Over the years, India has tried varied approaches to improve enrolment and quality of school education. However, as some recent surveys and data show, there is a huge gap between our aspirations and actual achievements. In the process, we have created a two-tier system of school education. Those who can afford school fees go to private schools and those who cannot, go to state schools. This gross inequality in schooling opportunities is the result of our current approach to education.

Good morning!  It is my great honor to welcome you to the School Choice National Conference. It’s hosted by the School Choice Campaign of the Centre for Civil Society. CCS practices Social Change through Public Policy! We are a think tank that uses research and advocacy to review and recommend changes in policy in the areas of education, livelihood, and governance and also engages India’s youth through our New Ideas, New Leaders programs.

The significance of education for economic growth and a progressive society needs no argument. India's performance in this area is indeed shameful. I do not want to delve on the past, but look towards the future. In this paper, I first discuss some of the myths about the problems of education in India, then evaluate recently proposed solutions, and at the end, offer my agenda for reform.

I. Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

Analyses of the welfare system generally examine one of five competing models:

The paper tries to capture the research and understanding along with innovations and policy reforms in assuring quality school education to all, with a particular focus on the poor. The scope is global but the problems and innovations in India get more weight in the document.

The industrial sector in India has been largely liberalized. The license raj has been dismantled and now there is less emphasis on this particular aspect of the larger governance structure. That the whole informal sector is not yet liberalized needs emphasis.

The license raj exists in the informal sector as badly or even worse than what it was for the industrial sector. There is a need to focus on three groups of people which are affected by this.

On 12 October 2011, Dr. Parth J. Shah, President of the Centre for Civil Society in India, gave an evening talk entitled “Challenges of Inclusive Growth in India” at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Dr. Parth’s central argument was that India’s lopsided economic growth is a result of uneven reforms.