Will education vouchers work in India?

Kudos to Mint for agreeing to publish this interesting piece by Anurag Behar. He actually disagrees with recent Mint pieces which support education vouchers and says this is Mint’s case of politics trumping its economics!!

On 3 February, Mint’s main editorial suggested that “school vouchers” will help solve India’s problems in school education. To use a distinction thatMint often makes, this is Mint’s politics trumping its economics. The reality is that school vouchers will make things worse, both in terms of quality and equity in the Indian education system.

A mere Web-search on research evidence on the effectiveness of school vouchers, will tell you that this is perhaps one of the most investigated issues in education in the past 20-odd years. There are many studies from Chile, which started a voucher system in 1980, from the US where some kind of voucher system has been used in three places from the 1990s, and from some other countries. You will see that a large number of these conclude that vouchers are ineffective in improving learning outcomes (quality), and that they increase inequality in the education system. You will also find studies that will say that vouchers are effective.
It will also be apparent that most studies that conclude that vouchers are ineffective do so unambiguously. Most studies that conclude that vouchers are effective do so with caveats, and under special conditions. To make sense out of this maze one could actually look at some reports that survey the overall status on this matter. 

He says we need to stick to basics of education and not look at fancy solutions (which have not even worked in the west..):

We need to work on the fundamental issues in school education instead of focusing on such superficial, counter-evidential, and misleading ideas. Some of these fundamental issues are: grounds-up reform of our teacher education, cultural changes in the system—including empowerment of schools and teachers, examination and text-book reforms, etc.

The only sustainable solution for India, as for any other society, is a good public education system—and politico-ideological rhetoric won’t change that reality.
Nice bit…

2 Responses to “Will education vouchers work in India?”

  1. Support AAP Odisha Says:

    Definitely the education vouchers is the worst procedure for the school going children. By this process they are becoming unable to know the public school and it’s method of teaching by which there is forming a big gap between the private and the public schools. Govt. should take an action over this to fix this issue.

  2. Ketaki Says:

    The reasoning that because something didn’t work in the West, won’t work here, is wrong. Each region has its own unique problems that have it’s own unique solution. Instead we need to look at why a system of vouchers will decrease quality and equity given the problems in our country instead of basing it off on results obtained in some other place.

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