Uttar Pradesh is the most populous Indian state, with a current population of over 215 million, and an elementary-school-age child population of about 40 million. Hence the challenge of providing free and compulsory education to all the children of UP demands unified strategies, involving both government and the private school sector. Already by 2014, private schools were educating 52% of the rural children of Uttar Pradesh, according to data from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER, 2014); in urban UP the proportion is higher, perhaps over 75 or 80%.
The reality of the vast bulk of private schools in UP is that they are small, low-fee operations. Many individual edu-preneurs undertook to establish budget schools in the villages, towns and cities of UP as a way of earning a livelihood but also in order to contribute to the progress and development of education in the state. The existence of the private school option has increased the choice and quality of education available to diverse economic sections of society. Since private schools are contributing so substantially in discharging what is really the government’s duty to educate all children, it is crucial for government to create an enabling and facilitative environment for the functioning of these schools and recognize the important role they are playing in the education sector.
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