More than 12 crore students in India are studying in private schools, which accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the total school-going population of India. A better quality of education and English as a medium of instruction are among the key reasons for parents opting for private schools for their children. But recent reports show that private schools are not delivering on these expectations.
“About 60 per cent of rural private school students in class 5 cannot solve a simple division problem, 35 per cent of rural private school students in class 5 cannot read a class 2 level graph,” according to the ‘State of the Sector’ report by the Central Square Foundation.
The situation, however, is not bad in rural parts of India alone. “Among students from the richest 20 per cent households attending private schools, only 56 per cent between eight and 11 years can read a class 2 level basic paragraph,” the report suggests.
Among the older students too, the results are discouraging. In the National Assessment Survey, the average score for grade 10 students in private schools was below 50 per cent in four out of five subjects.
It was found that in private schools, parents are not aware of the study outcomes of their children. About 60 per cent of all private schools do not extend to a board exam grade (class 10) at all, making it particularly hard for parents to judge the quality of these schools, as per the report. “This information gap also means that schools are less likely to invest in learning-focused invisible improvements like teacher training and quality, and more likely to spend on things that are observable by parents but may not lead to much improvement in learning – like computer labs, or marketing that proclaims English-medium instruction.”
While parents consider English medium as one of the key factors behind sending their ward to a private school, not even half of these schools reportedly teach in English. The report found that 42.3 per cent of private schools offer English as at least one of the mediums of instruction in their schools. This, however, is still higher than government schools where 10.4 per cent schools deliver teaching in English, according to the survey.
Even as the Right to Education (RTE) Act mandates a 25 per cent reservation in private schools for socio-economically disadvantaged students with the state reimbursing costs to schools, however, the implementation of this act has been erratic, as per the report.
A smaller share of SCs and STs attend private schools than the national average. Private schools inherently involve payment for access and serve lower proportions of the poor, girls, and children from Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). The private school access is more available to boys than girls across India, as per the report.
Data suggests the wealthiest quintile of students attending private schools may outperform the poorest quintile by 25- 30 per cent. Poverty, parental education, and gender are found to be among key indicators that affect student learning in rural primary schools in India.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines