Bhubaneswar: Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen feels that lack of emphasis on strengthening public education is what differentiates India from the trajectory of other countries which looked to develop themselves earlier.
“India stands out as a country in which the ratio of private schooling is much higher than in most countries… This high ratio is not only bad for equity, it is bad for incentive in a way that is seen as a favour instead of a right to be claimed by all citizens… The issue of efficiency (of education) and that of public and private schooling are closely related,” Sen said at a panel discussion on National Education Policy (NEP), hosted by Pratichi Institute.
“That point was well understood by any country that was ambitious about progressing — Europe in the 18th century, Japan during the Meiji Restoration, Korea, Taiwan and, later on, China… the need for a network of public schools covering the entire population,” the eminent economist said, underlining the need for inequality in society not to get reflected in efficiency of education.
Economist AK Shiva stressed on the gap between private and public schooling in India, saying that in 2016 half the children in secondary education in India were in private schools.
Describing the unregulated growth of private schools in the country as a worrying development, Shiva said: “The NEP avoids this particular problem by pretending it doesn’t exist… The children left behind in government schools are the ones who are from disadvantaged backgrounds… Among those in private schools, 50% children are being sent to schools which charge less than Rs 500 per month… It is difficult to imagine the limited facilities and quality of teaching in these schools… There are only ten countries in the world where there is a higher proportion of children studying in private schools… The NEP is silent on this subject.”
Shiva said the post-COVID situation is an “education emergency”, and that the learning gap between children in low and high-fee private schools will widen with remote learning.