[op-ed snap] Let’s focus on demand for education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : A new approach to Education


The work, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty draws insights from various ground-level experiments that involve field trials in poverty-stricken areas. They offer policy advice based on their learnings. 

Applying to education in India

    • India should go beyond the mere supply of schools, getting children into classrooms and focus on the demand for education.
    • The generation of demand is not always easy, especially in remote areas that aren’t exposed to the modern economy. 
    • School enrolment depends on the returns that families foresee on their investment. 
    • A study was conducted in three randomly selected villages in northern India. 
    • Exposed to job opportunities for women at business process outsourcing (BPO) centers, families began to re-evaluate their returns and the school enrolment of girls went up significantly.

Quality of education

    • Education quality is essential for demand to rise, and supply lacunae act as a hindrance. 
    • Due to the exposure via the internet, demand appears to be increasing, but the government’s supply of education is at odds with new patterns of demand. 
    • Very few state-run schools in India are English medium while education in English is what the country’s have-nots are increasingly looking for. 


India needs to work on both demand and supply. And the latter may still be what it’s best equipped to reform.

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