Indian states are struggling to lift public-school attendance

Oct 11, 2018

THE 80 or so pupils in Class 9 of YDVP Inter College, a private school in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, chorus “good morning” to the visitor, and then turn their attention back to the maths teacher. Smartly dressed in blue-and-white uniforms, the children are seated at desks in brick classrooms in a compound surrounded by fields. Fees are Rs170-250 ($2.29-3.37) a month, depending on the grade. That is a stretch for the area’s subsistence farmers and labourers, but the school, which has 1,000 pupils, is full. The 11 teachers are paid Rs2,000-5,000 a month, depending on their age, experience and quality.

At the government-run Upper Primary School, Khujehta, a few miles away, 63 children are enrolled, of whom 50 are present on the day of your correspondent’s visit. They sit on the floor in three classrooms, dressed in grubby pinkish government uniforms, looking at textbooks. Nobody is teaching them; the school’s two teachers are sitting on the veranda. They are paid Rs50,000 and Rs40...

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