Recently, opponents to the Right to Education (RTE) Act challenged the constitutionality of the law in the Supreme Court of India. RTE makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from poor families, which is to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan. Several private schools campaigned against this ruling and appealed in court. On April 12, the Supreme Court of India released its judgment upholding RTE. Although much of the media attention has focused on the 25% threshold for children from poor families, other sources focus on the inadequate education that public-private partnership schools provide their students.
The following video from News X, a video-based India news source, summarizes the Supreme Court ruling:
Academy schools are state funded but privately managed primary and secondary schools. The first academy schools were established in 2003, and now less than a decade later, 50% of English secondary schools have either converted or are seeking to convert to the governance model. Opponents to the proliferation of academy schools “argue academies are unaccountable and undemocratic as they have no link with locally-elected education authorities…” (See one school’s protest against being turned into an academy here.) Proponents believe the academy schools’ greater freedoms allow the opportunity for schools to “meet the needs of local parents and pupils.” (See Education Minister Michael Gove on detractors of academy schools here.)
The nation of India has recently faced the realization that the scale of educational change is too big for the government to fund. As a result, the private sector has to assume an important role in increasing educational access. “The government finally announced the much awaited plan to allow private sector investment in secondary schools via the PPP route — with a few caveats, rules and deposits of course. This is a major shift in policy, though we see that the opportunity has not been extended to primary education yet.” This policy is in line with what has been happening at the pre-school level, as an article from The Hindu highlights. In addition to these newspaper articles, a study in Economics of Education Review by Amita Chudgara and Elizabeth Quinb “call[s] into question the claim that [the] private school effect may be unequivocally positive and highlights the potential heterogeneity in private school performance in the Indian context.”