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Private schools need to improve learning outcomes: New study

A total of 73 per cent parents believe their children will learn better in private schools.

Published: 25th July 2020 07:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2020 07:41 AM   |  A+A-

CSF Founder-Chairman Ashish Dhawan

CSF Founder-Chairman Ashish Dhawan

By Express News Service

A total of 73 per cent parents believe their children will learn better in private schools. But 60 per cent of Class 5 private school students in rural areas can’t solve a simple division problem, and 35 per cent of them can’t even read a basic Class 2 level paragraph. These findings were revealed in a study called ‘State of the Sector Report on private Schools’ by the Central Square Foundation – a non-profit organisation that works towards ensuring quality school education, and Omidyar Network India, an investment firm focused on social impact.

Private schooling is not popular among the elite alone, observed CSF Founder-Chairman Ashish Dhawan.

“Today, the private school sector in India is the third-largest school system in the world. These numbers are mainly made up of parents from low and middle-income backgrounds who believe their children will have better learning outcomes in private schools. Parents can use the information from this study to compare school quality and pick the best school for their child,” said Dhawan.

About 70 per cent children in urban centres and a quarter from rural households attend private schools. It also states that over 50 per cent students in 16 Indian states are enrolled in private schools. However, student performance in private schools is only marginally better than government schools. With board examinations – a standard metrics to assess learning – only held in the last few years of schooling, parents are not able to judge the quality of schools during the early years of education. But, 60 per cent of the private schools across India do not go up to a board examination grade.

Speaking about the creating a demand for quality education, Roopa Kudva, Managing Director, Omidyar Network India, said, “We need to empower parents to make informed decisions based on learning quality when choosing a school. In the absence of meaningful information on how schools perform on learning, parents tend to give weightage to tangible parameters like school infrastructure or English as the m e d i u m o f instruction.” The report suggests reforms to streamline the operations of private schools with a focus on improving student learning.

It says there is a need to create a universal learning indicator to help parents compare learning performance across schools and make informed decisions. There is a need to establish an independent regulatory agency for the private school sector. It’s also necessary to review non-profit mandate and existing fee regulations to attract investment and enable easy access to credit for schools, and strengthen RTE Section 12(1)(c), which mandates 25 per cent reservations for underprivileged children.

Myths about private schools

About 70 per cent children in urban centres and a quarter from rural households attend private schools. The study also states that over 50 per cent students in 16 Indian states are enrolled in private schools. However, student performance in private schools is only marginally better than government schools. With board examinations – a standard metrics to assess learning – only held in the last few years of schooling, parents are not able to judge the quality of schools during the early years of education. 

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