International Aid and Private Schools for the Poor
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International Aid and Private Schools for the Poor

Smiles, Miracles and Markets

Pauline Dixon

This fascinating volume challenges the widely held belief that the state should supply, finance and regulate schooling in developing countries. Using India as an example, Dr. Pauline Dixon examines the ways in which private, for-profit schools might serve as a successful alternative to state-run systems of education in impoverished communities around the world.
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Chapter 3: The parting of the veil – low- cost private schools – the evidence

Smiles, Miracles and Markets

Pauline Dixon


The existence of a low-cost private education sector in India is now widely acknowledged. According to one report ‘a lower cost private sector has emerged to meet the demands of poor households’ and another that the ‘failure of public school in terms of meeting parents’ expectations/ aspirations’ has led to a ‘growing demand’ for private schools in India. Research carried out in villages in four north Indian states reports that ‘even among poor families and disadvantaged communities, one finds parents who make great sacrifices to send some or all of their children to private schools, so disillusioned are they with government schools’. Reporting on evidence from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan ‘private schools have been expanding rapidly in recent years’ and these ‘now include a large number of primary schools which charge low fees’, in urban as well as rural areas. For the poor in Calcutta (Kolkata) there has been a ‘mushrooming of privately managed unregulated . . . primary schools’ and in Haryana private unrecognised schools ‘are operating practically in every locality of the urban centres as well as in rural areas, often located adjacent to a government school’.

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