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Jiva; education as a public good

I am covering two topics in this mail.

On Fri, 18 Sep 1998 shrikant.sundaram@tatainfotech.com wrote:

> There is this school in Delhi, around delhi I guess - the web site of
> which is www.jiva.org which is promoting the education process in a
> different way. Probably we can get to have one of their people on board
> here.

Dear Shrikant,

I checked out this website. Great idea to have a different approach to
education. Multiplicity is useful. But this concept is quite untested. It
might not be the thing that India needs at all. Here we might have a
little something to discuss about the 'content' of education, which
is perhaps the most controversial thing. 

About requesting others to join: please do request on your own, anyone
whom you would like to invite. This is a completely open forum.

Education as public good:

Barun's view:

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 

My view:

I had requested Prof. Roy to tell us what he thinks. From my readings and
experience, I see a few things operating here:

a) Education (not like the one imparted in USSR and North Korea) helps
people become more aware of their rights, their powers, and their
independence. That is a benefit everyone enjoys. It is true that democracy
does not need education in order to function, but surely it might help
expand a more rational discourse such as the one we are trying to have. A
National Debate cannot be truly national until people can all read and
then think about the issues. Subisidy for literacy (upto higher secondary)
might be therefore called for.

b) The benefits of education are highly skewed toward those of better
innate ability. They capture much of the 'social rent' that we are talking
about because they produce - generally - most of the value addition by
each generation. At the same time, the entire society gains positively as
new innovations, new ideas are created. But the case remains strong for
not subisidizing higher education.

c) It is clear that economic policy impacts very strongly on the demand
for education, and in fact on many other things. 

d) There is a serious problem of organization of schools and getting hold
of teachers of some quality. It is true that the process of trying to
subsidize schools might end up in greater lack of initiative from the
local people, but as a first step, let us wean the people away from
government appointed teachers upto the higher secondary level and force
them to take charge of their own schools. Once they manage their schools
themselves, they could then progressively be weaned away from subsidies at
the secondary level (some kind of infant school argument?). 

Parth's view: (summarized by me)

I would like to see how these thought-proviking views of Barun, compare
with the study by Parth at:


Parth states (please read this - EVERYONE!)

a) Government should not PRODUCE education, but could subsidize it:

"As in the economy where government provides financial support (subsidies)
to the needy, the government may choose to subsidize education.  But
subsidizing or financing education is not the same as producing education.  
I however think that if the quality of education were high and if it were
tailored to the needs of individual parents and children, even the poor
would pay for it."

	(this is exactly what Milton Friedman stated ...)

b) Privately run schools as the CAUSE of high literacy in Kerala:

"Kerala is one of the few states in the country were elementary education
is not made compulsory by law.  Both governments spend about equal
fraction of the total budget on education (about 25 percent).  In West
Bengal, 84 percent of rural children do not pay any fee for primary
education but that number is only 48 percent in Kerala.  Sixty percent of
rural primary school children get free textbooks and supplies in West
Bengal, only two percent in Kerala."

"in a thoroughly Marxist state like Kerala, 60 percent of the rural
primary schools are private, as compared to only 11 percent in West

"provision of direct scholarships to students in Kerala also leads to the
same result. With the scholarship money, students can go to any school of
their choice.  Among all the states in the country, the highest proportion
of children in Kerala receives transportation subsidy and direct

I believe both Parth and Barun would be compatible with the ALL privately
owned model we are talking about. At the same time, a subsidy in the form
of partial 'geographical incentive pay' for contractually appointed
teachers, scholarhips for the brighter students, and possibly some other
policies promoting local competition in syllabus and quality, might be a
good thing to have, if it can be properly administered without leaking
into the political system.


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