A great deal of research now shows
that importance of the private unaided sector in meeting the educational needs of the poor, in India,
and other developing countries. One of the major reasons is the problem of teacher absenteeism and low level of teaching
activity in government schools. The influential “Probe Report” found that in only 53% of government schools
in four Indian states was there any teaching going on at all! Indeed, in the government schools for low-income families, it
reported that ‘generally, teaching activity has been reduced to a minimum, in terms of both time and effort –
it has become a way of life in the profession’. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen also reported a high incidence of teacher
absenteeism in government schools in research carried out by the Pratichi Trust in West Bengal.
And the Oxfam Education Report gives teacher absenteeism in government schools as a major reason why poor households
choose to send their children to the private alternative.
Private unrecognized schools in India
Our research has shown
a thriving private unaided sector in India.
Many schools charge fees in the range Rs. 50/- to Rs. 150/- ($1 to $3), per month, serving very low income families.
Significantly, we found that many schools are themselves providing free and concessionary places for the poorest families
– on average 15% of all places, taking 7% of total revenue.