ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Public Education System and What the Costs Imply

There are basic methodological and conceptual problems with recent research that ends up arguing that private school education is more effective than public education. Such findings have obvious policy implications but it is critical that research that informs policy is based on a correct reading of facts, keeping the larger vision of education in mind.

Recent research into the cost effectiveness of public education vis-à-vis private education concludes that (a) per student expenditure in a government school is higher than per student expenditure in a private school; (b) government schoolteachers are usually paid more than private schoolteachers; and (c) public sector intervention in education has not delivered desired levels of learning outcome (Pritchett and Aiyar 2014a; Dongre, Kapur and Tiwary 2014; Gandhi-Kingdon 2011; and French and Gandhi-Kingdon 2010. See also Milligan and Dhume 2012).

However, in a large country like India, there is great variation within both the public and private schools and therefore these observations, though generally valid, need more nuanced interpretation. Instead in the policy debates on education, these findings are often treated as universal truths with inferences made on their basis leading to quite drastic policy implications.

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