Are we asking the right questions? Moving beyond the state vs non-state providers debate: reflections and a case study from India

Author(s): Bangay, Colin; Latham, Michael

Date: 2013

Pages: p. 244-252


This paper provides an overview of recent trends in basic education provision in India: charting an impressive expansion of enrolment in public schools but a growing concern with the quality of learning. Concerns around quality are seen as a driving factor in the migration of students from the public sector to low fee private schools. While there is evidence of improved learning amongst some low fee private schools there are also significant concerns around equity. The paper proposes that for the sake of future generations it is necessary to move beyond a polemical focus on state or non-state provision but rather to focus on six core questions about education provision: Is it sound pedagogically? Does it deliver meaningful learning? Is it equitable? Is it scalable? Is it financially viable and Is it sustainable? These questions are explored through a review of `Gyan Shala', an innovative low cost education programme operating in the slums of Gujarat and Bihar. The paper concludes that a better understanding of the dynamic between the sectors is needed to ensure effective education planning which will deliver meaningful learning to all.

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