Nandkishore Kabra, an accountant of modest means in Solapur, a town in southern Maharashtra, spends Rs 18,000 a year to educate his three children at the private Mahesh English Medium High School — a non-trivial sum considering that he could have sent them to a free government school like the one he attended.
Kabra is among a growing number of parents across the state who see a private English-medium education as the only way for their children to make it out of small towns and profit from the opportunities offered by a fast globalising Indian economy.
Enrolment in classes 1 to 8 in private schools in the state rose by more than 50 per cent from the previous year, even though overall enrolment rose by less than one per cent, according to the latest survey carried out by the District Information System for Education, a government body.
The largest jump is in two and three-tier cities. For example, in Aurangabad, the number of students in private schools more than tripled to 18,543 from 5,109.
“I want my children to move to a big city,” said Kabra. “For that, they need to know good English. I moved to Pune for my CA from a Marathi-medium school and the first year was so difficult. I felt like killing myself. I will not make the same mistake my parents made.”