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Economics of Primary education

This book will interest those in the fields of health, education, welfare and finance.

books Updated: Jan 05, 2006 19:42 IST

The Economics of Elementary Education in India
Edited By Santosh Mehrotra
SAGE Publications
Rs. 640
Pages: 328
ISBN: 0-7619-3419-7

India has one of the lowest educational indicators in many of its northern states – Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. These states account for most of the country’s children out of school and most of its illiterate population. Not surprisingly, they are the states with the highest incidence of poverty in India.

This volume discuses key aspects of the economics of the elementary education system in the poorer and educationally backward states of India, while also examining one high-achiever state – Tamilnadu. Providing the first state-by-state analysis of major cost and financing issues, the book is based on data gathered from one of the most comprehensive surveys conducted in recent times in these states, which was specifically commissioned for this book. The survey covered 1,20,000 households and a thousand schools spread over 91 districts in eight states.

Written by leading education economists, the original essays in this volume:
•Analyse the major cost and financing issues in elementary schooling in seven of the eight states surveyed – Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
•Identify recent initiatives made by the governments of these states
•Systematically scrutinise the pattern of public spending in elementary education
•Examine enrolment in government schools and the quality of education that they impart
•Study household expenditure on schooling – the costs to parents of sending children to school
•Compare government schools with private schools, showing how the private sector has begun to take over what should be the responsibility of the government, particularly in the poorer states.

In a country where administrative records – concerning enrolment, dropout, retention and repetition – are unreliable as a source of data, surveys and analyses of the type reported in this volume help policy-makers and scholars get a better picture of the ground realities.

Here is an excerpt:

“Today, India has a population of illiterates that is larger than the country’s total population in 1947 during Independence. There cannot be a greater testimony to how we have failed our children. Of all the large so-called emerging market economies – Brazil, China, Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa – India has among the lowest health indicators and the worst educational indicators. Yet, the Indian state has always trumpeted the fact of India ‘having the third largest scientific and technical cadre in the world’. It is indeed an irony lost on no one that the sixth nuclear power in the world, India, has educational indicators for a majority of its population in the most backward states which are not different from those of an average sub-Saharan country. These educationally-backward states are the ones that account for most of the country’s children out of school, and most of its illiterate population. Since higher educational levels are known to be highly co-related with better health indicators, and also with income levels, these states are the ones with the highest incidence of poverty among Indian states. Poor educational outcomes in these states reproduce poverty in a cycle from generation to generation.”

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 19:36 IST