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I think education can in no way be called 
a"public good", and therefore there is no 
reasonto believe that there is "market failure" 
in the field of education. Consequently, there is 
no ground for the govt. to be involved 
ineducation whether through funding, or 
management, providing seed money to local bodies 
or NGOs, or even subsidies in the form of mid-day 

Utkarsh: Dear Barun, I am not an economist. 
I apologize for not able to understand a public 
good relation here in its technical definition. 
But as an ordinary citizen, I am unable to
understand the role of governement in an ordinary 
citizens life.

For a civilization that survived on the basis 
ofits "gurukul" system, and where today we can 
see the incredible proliferation
of private tutorials, coaching classes, 
andvocational institute, I donot understand why 
private bodies - for profit
and non-profit - would not be able to meet 
the demand, set their own standards, and compete 
with each other.

Utkarsh: We did have some discussion on 
this before. I am not sure that if an avaerage 
citizen earning below minimum wage can
afford a for profit school to send his or her 
kid to school for primary education. If he/she 
even tried to do anything, they wil
do what you did suggest of hiring someone 
to tuition these millions of kids for primary 
education at a small cost.  And I
can gaurentee that all these kids will never 
have a chance to go to a primary and then 
secondary (no one is going to tuition at
that price) education in their life time.

Allowing the state in this area will only help 
legitise the role of govt. in similar situations. 
And it will in due course give rise to interest 
group warfare and falling quality. In the US
there are organizations that are opposing 
the school voucher system as a means of ensuring 
greater competition among schools, and they have 
called for separation of school and state.

Utkarsh: As I said earlier that I am confused 
with your thoughts on the role of government in 
a society. I am also unable to understand your 
premise of interest group warfare and falling
quality. In the US, voucher system is proposed 
for students to get a limited amount of money 
to go to a private school if a student does not 
want to go to government run public schools.
And there is opposition to such a thought. 
There has been talk of seperation of federal 
governement with the school system. In
my understanding, local governement is knee 
deep in the funding and selecting the management 
of all the public schools in the US.

As for the poorest of the poor, I think it 
would be very arrogant of us to think that 
because they may be illiterate, they are also 
ignorant. The two words are not synonymous. I
think the primary reason why many parents 
don't think of investing much in education 
is because of the general economic environment 
in the country. For instance, employment in 
the organised sector - both govt. and private - 
has remained almost flat for over a decade. And 
for the informal/unorganised sector formal 
educational qualification has never been 
a barrier.

Utkarsh: You are right, they are not ignorant. 
At some time back I had posted a study by world 
bank in India, which concluded that high dropout 
in primary education was due to poor quality
of education, lack of classrooms, teachers 
and supplies. There were findings of child labor. 
But it was not the primary finding
for higher dropout rate.

Indeed, I can cite instances, 
where illiterate/semi-literate parents in remote 
villages organised themselves to hire a
teacher (for a salary which consisted of 
part cash, part farm produce) to teach their 
children the basic three R's. Because
that is what they could afford, and 
thought adequate in their conditions. Therefore 
the only area of interest in the field of
education ought to be on ways of 
removing restrictive barriers to entry and 
running of educational establishments, mandatory
standards, minimum qualification for 
teachers, etc. Then trust the market to achieve a 
balance between supply and demand. And
allow competion to ensure quality.

Utkarsh: Again I am assuming that we are 
expecting only middle and upper middle class to 
gain an education. If I earn less than
minimum wage (remeber this does make millions of 
real people) than my kids can never afford an 
education as no one in right mind is going to run 
a school to teach me at below cost.

Finally, education and literacy should not 
be looked in isolation from the general 
intellectual and economic climate. Consider that 
countries like North Korea, Cuba, former Soviet
Union had all achieved almost 100% literacy, 
but that did not help these countries much. 
Likewise in Kerala, 100% literacy and
better health care system have transformed it 
into a heaven on earth. It is one of the most 
socially and politically fragmented
society, has very high suicide rates, 
relatively high incidence of crimes against 
women, very few employment opportunities, 
has failed to attract the attention of the 
investors, and even the remittances from 
Keralites living out side has been used not
been put to any regenerative use, but in 
real estate, housing, and gold (three age old 
avenues of investment in troubled

Utkarsh : Agreed

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