About the Report
Enrolments in unaided private schools in India have increased from 17% in 2006 to 39% in 2014. A significant percentage of unaided schools fall in the category commonly known as Low Cost Private Schools or Budget Private Schools (BPS). Charging fees within the range of INR 100 to INR 800 per month, BPS have emerged as a preferred schooling option among poor families aspiring to good quality English medium education for their children. The sector is however marred by polarised debates on the morality of private provision of education, and a reluctance of government and civil society groups to engage constructively with BPS to improve education quality, access and equity.
For the first decade of the 2000s these schools did not attract much interest from players in the Indian education sector. In the last few years, there has been increasing attention paid to this phenomenon. There is a growing body of research into the working and impact of low cost private schools on education outcomes both in India and globally. An increasing number of investors and service providers are working with these schools to understand them and improve quality, efficiency and sustainability. The emergence of various school chains globally, both in partnership and independent of the state, is of particular interest as a means to scale best practices.
The Right to Education Act (2009) contained several sections focused on unaided private schools, with special attention paid to quality of inputs (infrastructure, staffing and finances), and little discussion on improving learning outcomes. Significantly, it included a provision for state financing of private education through Section 12 (1) (c), acknowledging the capacity of private players to supply quality education to poor families. The creation of the National Independent Schools Alliance in 2011 has brought associations of BPS from across the country under a common umbrella to improve educational outcomes and advocate immediate concerns with government. With increasing interest among practitioners, policy makers, civil society groups and the media, there is a growing acceptance of the significance of BPS in reaching the goal of universal primary education in India.
This Report on BPS in India aims to provide a repository of credible information on Budget Private Schools in India, collected through research, and by collating perspectives and information from practitioners, policymakers and scholars engaged with the sector. Previous efforts at compiling information on the sector have been carried out in both the Indian (e.g. Sector analysis by GMC in 2012, Role of private sector in education by E&Y in 2014) and Global context (e.g. Rigorous literature review of global research on the sector funded by DFID in 2014, Resources page on affordable-learning.com by PALF).
The first edition of this report aims to update and push forward the discourse on BPS in India, by providing a platform for informed and inclusive interactions on the sector. It is planned as an annual effort, to continually update and source new information on the status of BPS in India. The findings from the report will be disseminated to key stakeholders with the aim of transforming the nature of discourse on BPS from ideology and philosophy driven debate to data-driven and evidence based discussion. The report is meant to be accessible to the educated layman. It will consist of essays, interviews, case studies and various graphical representations. It is intended to be read by all individuals with an interest in education in India, with a focus on practitioners, policymakers and the media.