Study Shows Even Poorer Families Choose Private Education over Government Schools in India

09 May, 2012

A study by Young Lives in Andhra Pradesh, India, found that the number of 7 and 8 year olds attending fee-paying schools had almost doubled between 2002 and 2009.

Researchers tracked 3,000 children who were randomly selected from different social and economic backgrounds in Andhra Pradesh. They found that in 2002 about one quarter (24%) of 7 and 8 year olds attended private schools, but by 2009 the rate had almost doubled to 44%.

The study, lead by Martin Woodhead, Associate Research Director at Young Lives at Oxford University and Professor of Childhood Studies at the Open University, suggests that the trend is fuelled by the availability of low fee-paying private schools, and the perception among parents that children will make better educational progress in private schools. Parents said they valued English-medium teaching offered by private schools, whereas government schools mostly teach in the regional language, Telugu.

The research is part of the Young Lives project, which is tracking the development of children in four countries, including India. The research team compared two cohorts of children of different ages – an older cohort born in 1994-5 and a younger cohort in 2001-2002. The findings are published in the International Journal of Educational Development.

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