Challenges faced by private sector in India's K-12 education and way forward
The K-12 school system in India is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.4 million schools with over 250 million students enrolled, according to a report by EY-FICCI on the education sector in India. India has the highest number of schools and the highest number of students enrolled in the K-12 system as compared to the UK or the US.
Schools have grown at a CAGR of 2.5per cent from 1.2 million in 2005 to 1.4 million in 2011 and student enrollment has grown at a CAGR of 2.2 per cent to reach 253 million students in 2011.
K-12 education sector in India
India has one of the highest students studying in the K-12 sector in the world. With our government taking many steps to increase the enrollment of students in this sector, there has been a sharp rise in dropout rates too.
The K-12 sector in India can be segmented by ownership, level of education and board of affiliation. In India, 25 per cent of all K-12 schools are privately owned, thereby accounting for 40 per cent share in student enrollment. 54 per cent of all 1.46 million K—12 schools in India are managed by the Central Government / State Government, 21 per cent are managed by Municipal corporations while private schools account for 25 per cent of total number of K-12 schools in India. As regards the affiliation, 96 per cent of K-12 schools in India are affiliated to state boards, one per cent to CBSE, 0.1 per cent to CISCE and two per cent go unrecognized. In addition to the Indian boards,a large number of schools across India tie up with International Boards.
Contribution of the private sector K-12 education in India
As compared to UK or the US, India has the highest number of students enrolled to private schools. There has been a steady increase in enrollment in private schools in rural India from 18.7 per cent in 2006 to 25.6 per cent in 2011 thus showing the increased importance of education in rural India. This rise is accompanied by a decline in enrollment in government schools. Private school enrolment in the top 20 states account for nearly 55 per cent share of enrollment at the secondary / higher secondary level. With rising awareness of education, India’s K-12 education has witnessed a growing CAGR of 4 per cent over the past five years. Following this trend, India would require additional 1,30,000 private schools by the year 2022.
Challenges needed to overcome
- India’s K-12 education sector is faced by lot of challenges which need to be addressed in order to bring India in one of the top most educated countries in the world. Let’s find them below:
- A key challenge faced by K-12 education system remains low enrollment across senior classes. Students are seen dropping their studies after class 8th.
- There has been a sharp increase in dropout rate of girls at primary and secondary level as that compared of boys.
- Low learning levels pose serious questions over the quality of education. School children are seen opting for paid supplemental help in the form of tutors and other coaching classes. According to the Delhi Education Minister, Manish Sisodia, “Children of grade 6th and 8th are unable to read their textbooks. This calls out for a serious action to be taken by private sector."
- Lack of adequate infrastructure, facilities and good quality teachers impact the quality of education.
- Quality of delivery is seen affected by lack of teacher training and a high student teacher ratio.
- Other challenges impacting the proper functioning of private sector in K-12 education are inflexible and complex regulatory reforms, schools facing closure due to RTE norms and scale, high capital cost, nature of running a school on charitable basis, high cost in the initial years etc.
Overcoming the challenges
The challenges posed to the private sector in K-12 education need to be addressed sooner as private players are seen playing an inevitable role in educating the masses of India. To start with, the fee charged by schools should be regulated and a small fixed percentage of it should be raised every 2-3 years.
Admission to nursery is a daunting task for parents. Steps should be taken to clear this process. Schools should be allowed to operate on short term leases or rentals. To reduce the impact of initial high cost, pooling of government and private resources should be encouraged. Private schools should also be given flexibility on the salaries in initial years.
Thus, private sector in K-12 education raises the number of students being educated along with providing good quality education and infrastructure.Private sector involvement has undoubtedly helped raise the general level and variety of educational opportunities. It has helped many students tap rapidly emerging and evolving local as well as global career opportunities.