In India, numerous private educational setups are propagated as the means to extend affordable yet better education to the poor and backward classes.
The What and The How
A recent study focusing on the capital of Telangana, reveals that parts of the Old City of Hyderabad are serving as a “laboratory” to experiment with low-cost education in a start-up-like fashion along with technology-backed pilot setups. These setups are tested for feasibility to be implemented globally. These are funded and backed by multinationals and venture capitalists, among others.
Commissioned by Educational International, the research shows that privatization has been happening for decades and was initially started by well-meaning individuals to serve the community needs. However, in the late 1990s, these were identified as scalable markets by people like James Tooley. Collectively termed as Low Fee Private Schools (LFPS), these are known to the working and middle-class populations as a gateway to “social mobility”, suggest the authors of this study. This research pushes readers, educators, and other related stakeholders to consider the justification of LFPS in India due to the deteriorating government educational institutions. The pro-privatization phenomenon has affected public schools and is forcing the shutdown of many of them.
Can This Work?
The presence of a strong IT industry in Hyderabad offers ideal conditions for the tech-backed solutions needed for standardization. The legal restrictions imposed by the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2010 have only made investors and corporations consider other unregulated areas that have high demands like early childhood education, tuition, and coaching centers.
Also, backing of the state government for the internationally-run, large-scale charter schools, like the Bridge International Academies, have been shown to bring down the value of locally-run LFPS and the RTE.
Though the solutions offered are put forth to standardize education systems in these areas as a form of “social service”, it is ultimately the profitability that scores over the interests of the students, says the study.