Decades of under-funding and neglect of public K-12 education has sparked a private schools revolution across the country. With public/government schools anathema to the country’s fast-expanding middle class, a multiplying number of education entrepreneurs, aka eduprenuers are running the gauntlet of incorrigibly corrupt government bureaucrats to promote well-equipped, new genre private preschools to primary-secondaries offering relatively sky-high quality English medium education to the world’s largest (480 million) and most short-changed child population.
In the lexicon of left intellectuals who dominate the academy, and even in the eyes of post-independence India’s subsidies-addicted middle class, edupreneurs are exploitative businessmen extracting high tuition and other fees from hapless middle class and poor households struggling to make ends meet. In reality, they are risk-bearing nation builders driven by the spirit of enlightened self-interest and compassion for the country’s neglected children and youth, cruelly denied their fundamental right to good quality, globally comparable early childhood and K-12 education by India’s myopic and amoral neta-babu brotherhood and uncaring academy. The plain truth that private school education in contemporary India is priced lower than in any country worldwide has been suppressed, as has the reality that children from a substantial number of foreign countries travel long ways to avail primary-secondary education in India’s private schools.
In 2007, your editors initiated the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings (EWISR), an unprecedented and unreplicated field interviews- based survey to rate India’s Top 1,000 schools on 14 parameters of education excellence and rank them in ten separate categories to avoid apples with oranges type comparisons. Since then the annual EWISR survey has blossomed into the world’s largest and most comprehensive schools ranking initiative.
Although over the years the annual EWISR survey has expanded its ambit to cover tier II-IV cities and towns, the league tables — and the annual EWISR Awards — tend to be dominated by metropolitan and legacy institutions. In this path-breaking issue of EW managing editor Summiya Yasmeen has turned the spotlight on top-ranked schools of provincial and small town India. The outcome is inspiring stories of altruism and idealism, combined with enlightened self interest.
And in this month’s special report feature, as usual we examine the last Union budget of the incumbent BJP/NDA government before the forthcoming General Election 2019. Once again it’s a sad story of failure to accord sufficient importance to developing India’s abundant and high-potential human capital. Yet the unique differentiation is that we provide a road map for the next Union finance minister to raise Rs.6.37 lakh crore to augment and contemporise India’s education eco-system. Similar schema have been presented annually for the past several years with no response from government or the intelligentsia. Nevertheless, undaunted, once more unto the breach.