The past few years have seen tremendous growth in the private school sector in India. In 2007-08, in classes 1 to 8, 72.23% children were enrolled in government schools and 27.61% children in private schools; in 2013-14 this number was 61.32% and 35.82% respectively.
Although there is a significant geographic variation in the private school enrolment , there has been a general rise in the private school enrolment across rural and urban areas. Most of this increase is due to the rapid rise of low-cost or affordable private schools. This presents a challenge of improving a large, heterogeneous and a highly complex education system.
Also there is some evidence that private schools are more cost-efficient as compared to the government schools. But this relative cost-efficiency is not necessarily accompanied by a higher level of absolute learning in children.
We believe in thinking of the education system as a whole and work towards establishing benchmarks of excellence in both government and private sector. Given the size of the sector, private schools can play useful role in providing quality education. We need an approach which focuses on quality, encourages autonomy and innovation, mandates transparency and accountability, and incentivises cooperation between the government and the private schools.