Saturday, July 26, 2008

India’s School Choice Movement

Posted on AtlasNetwork 12 June 2008 by Brad Lips

Last week,
I was privileged to participate in an event at the Harvard Club up in NYC. Atlas
was a co-sponsor for this reception and panel discussion, which was hosted by Centre for Civil Society, founded
in 1997 by Parth Shah in New Delhi, India. CCS is one of my favorite think
tanks. Its chairman, Gucharan Das, authored the international best-sellar India
, and gave remarks about the relevance of school choice to the
challenge of sustaining the growth of India’s economy, which is so dependent on
educated labors that are in short supply. Other experts affiliated with CCS
talked about the sad state of government schools in India, where something like
25% of teachers simply fail to show up and an even higher percentage fail to teach. (Another
Atlas friend, James Tooley of the EG West
Centre, has done remarkable work in documenting the popularity - in India and
elsewhere - of low-budget private-sector alternatives to these incompetent
government schools.) And they explained the early results of their school choice
, which has demonstrated the high demand for school choice reforms
in different localities within India.
It was an
impressive event with great turnout. We had forecasted an audience of 30-40, so
the room was a little hot and crowded when the actual numbers hit 85. But that
is a wonderful tribute to the CCS team that promoted the event. The Centre is
obviously doing important work, and we’re hopeful that friends of Atlas will
pitch in to help them expand their school choice programs.
The photo comes
courtesy of Atlas’s ever-talented Deroy Murdock. That’s Gucharan Das in the
middle speaking, and me on the end, obviously trying to fit in with the 75% of
remaining panelists by following their lead and touching my face. ;-)

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