Times are changing in India. Today, children of poor Indian families are more likely to attend private schools and avoid the public school system. A new study by the University of Oxford recently reported that in Andhra Pradesh, a state located in southeast India, the rate of young children attending private schools has doubled since 2002, jumping from 24% in 2002 to 44% in 2009. Today, poorer families have greater flexibility to give their child a better education.
Private schools offer many benefits that are attractive to Indian families, including low costs and the ability for a child to learn English. According to the study, private schools may offer classes that are taught in English, whereas government schools teach in Telugu (the local language). Additionally, families in urban areas are more likely to have a child in private school compared to rural families (although the gap is decreasing).
This new research might sound positive, but there are still many negative opportunity costs. Sadly, poorer families will often have to choose one child over another simply because of costs. Moreover, a boy is often chosen over a girl.
As the Associate Research Director Martin Woodhead puts it, “Many more parents are opting out of free government schools to pay for a private education for their children, even if it means making sacrifices. Those on a very limited budget are finding they have to grant privileges to one child over another.”
Progress for poorer families is being made, but work still needs to be done to ensure that every boy and girl gets a suitable education in the future.
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