A recent NSSO report has confirmed what has been common knowledge all along, private schools are preferred over government schools due to better quality education. The survey was conducted between January and June 2014.
Consider this: among 100 people who prefer private schools in rural India, more than 92 do it for 3 reasons. First, better learning environment in private schools; Second, English is the medium of instruction and lastly, quality of education being unsatisfactory in government schools.
This holds true for more than 70% in both rural and urban areas up to higher secondary level, with the exception of higher secondary level in rural areas, where it is 64%. However, interestingly, the situation is reverse for graduate and above and diploma level.
The perception about private schools being superior seems to be rooted in experience and takes into account different factors. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, learning outcomes in private schools in rural areas have been consistently better than government schools, with the gap widening in most cases. For example, the percentage point gap between children studying in standard V in private and government schools who could do division was 10.3 in 2010. This increased to 18.6 in 2014. The situation is similar for other learning indicators as well.
Secondly, parents who choose private schools for their children as they believe private schools can offer better all-round education. Parth Shah, president at the Centre for Civil Society, said one mother wanted her young child to study in a private school because the teachers there regularly checked the nails and the uniform of the children.
“Punctuality, hygiene and discipline—these are the three soft skills parents look at while getting their children admitted in elementary school,” he said.
Besides that, it is of course the lure of the English language. In a lot of government schools, children are taught in their regional languages and parents know that even a little knowledge of English can go a long way for their child in the future, Shah said.
Lastly, privates schools still ] make a higher social statement. “If I am high status, I must send (my child) to private school,” said Anurag Behar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation.
According to Shah, it has only been over the last decade or so that private players have begun to enter into the higher education space in a big way. “There are many institutes in the private space, but naturally, they are not yet able to compete with a Presidency College or a Xaviers or an Indian Institute of Technology,” he said.
The single biggest contributor that makes a good college is the teachers. Teachers are paid well at higher levels in government colleges and attracting teachers of similar qualifications or teaching experience would make it a lot costlier for a private college.
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