Does the quality of education increase as long as schools keep raising tuition by five to seven percent annually?
Based on InvestIndia data, the education sector in India is estimated to be valued $117 billion and is projected to grow to $313 billion by FY30.
As stated in the Economic Survey FY23, government spending on education accounts for 8.3% of GDP, making it a critical sector. Nevertheless, tuition costs have increased. According to the survey, the combined spending of the Central and State governments on social sector expenditures has been rising rapidly, reaching a total of Rs 21.3 lakh crore in FY23 (BE).
It’s interesting to note that experts believe that although school costs are rising, the quality does not. Despite the widespread perception that more expensive tuition means a better education, there are outliers on both sides. While some institutions with higher prices might not offer an education at a level appropriate for their costs, others with lower fees might maintain a high standard.
This relationship is especially evident in the field of education. There seems to be a lot of disagreement on this topic, with opinions ranging from letting institutions, parents, and society’s ability to control fees to intervening on behalf of the government to avoid placing an excessive financial burden on particular groups of people. In many regions, the committee structure—where schools have to defend fee increases—seems to be a reliable system.
But in places where this framework is absent, governments or educational institutions may have to make arbitrary decisions, according to Kamlesh Vyas, partner in financial advising at Deloitte India, who spoke with FE Education.
Based on InvestIndia data, the education sector in India is estimated to be valued $117 billion and is projected to grow to $313 billion by FY30. The report further noted that India’s education and skills industry will expand double this decade, from $180 billion in 2020 to $313 billion in 2030, while producing 5 million new employment and impacting 429 million learners.
InvestIndia data shows that the number of private schools in the nation climbed from 325,760 in 2018–19 to 335,844 in 2021–22.
With 25 million children born every year, India’s pre-school market is predicted to increase by $7.35 billion by 2028, demonstrating a growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% between 2023-2028, while at a K-12 level, India has roughly 1.46 million schools and 230 million pupils. With over 265 million students, 9.5 million teachers, and 1.49 million schools, India boasts one of the biggest educational systems globally. The expense of education, whether at a government or private school, varies dramatically for an ecosystem this size. According to data from EduFund, private school tuition typically ranges from Rs 2,500 to Rs 8,000 per month in tier 1 and tier 2 cities.
Furthermore, parents are responsible for other costs such as maintenance, lab and technology fees, books and stationery fees, transportation expenses, and so forth, in addition to the tuition. Consequently, the sum nearly doubles. For the most part, an increase in private school tuition each year is closely correlated with higher educational standards. Undoubtedly, inflation plays a significant role, but schools also budget for things like facility upgrades, the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment, increased extracurricular activities, and other essentials. Moreover, fee hikes might also be the result of rising operating expenses, such as those related to teacher salaries, maintenance, and administration.
Furthermore, schools may aim to attract and retain excellent instructors by offering attractive compensation packages, according to Ajay Gupta, co-founder of Rishihood University and founder of Bachpan Play Schools and Academic Heights Public School (AHPS).
Nonetheless, it can be difficult for parents to keep up with the sharp increases in tuition year after year, particularly when the quality of education only slightly improves. Many parents believe that all schools should adhere to boards, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), ICSE, and CBSE. The IB follows a somewhat different course structure than ICSE and CBSE since it promotes a comprehensive understanding of multiple subjects through an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to learning.
The IB is recognized by many worldwide universities, which makes the admissions process simpler. This is a key point to consider. This is also the reason why the IB course costs more than the other two. Additionally, according to Edufund’s research, the fees vary per class. You will have to pay significantly less if your child is in primary school than if they are a high school student. Parents must spend an average of Rs 6,000 for their child’s primary education.
This payment increases to Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 when the child enters secondary or higher secondary school. Because they cannot afford a private education, families making Rs 3 lakh or less a year prefer to send their kids to government schools. A youngster attending a government school needs to make at least Rs 20,000 per year in order to attend. “Although funding is necessary for school upkeep and to boost teacher salaries, it has little to no effect on raising educational standards.
A parent from NOIDA named Mohammed Rashad stated, “Finding the right balance between what we can afford and supporting schools is a challenge we all face in today’s expensive world.”
Providing chances for everyone
Fees are one component of developing an inclusive education system, according to a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) study. Other components include ending discrimination against and excluding children with disabilities, providing access to primary and secondary education, and having a sufficient number of inclusive and accessible schools, including for children with disabilities who are in crisis or emergency. In addition to individual education plans for children with disabilities that outline the adjustments and support they require, “reasonable accommodation” refers to practical help or adaptations for kids that allow them to study.
Even if the government’s National Education Policy has established a framework for their consideration, there is still more work to be done at the school level. “Many programs and schemes are currently in operation under various government schemes to provide equal opportunities for both boys and girls.” To ensure that more female students attend class or are enrolled on a regular basis, however, more teachers and volunteers are needed to monitor remote areas and raise the standard of education. “We urgently need teacher training,” stated West Delhi parent Amandeep Singh.
It’s interesting to note that schools also think that implementing inclusive policies can contribute to a decrease in tuition costs. “It is necessary to investigate inclusive approaches in order to solve this issue fully and minimize expenditures. Permitting schools to perform a variety of tasks outside of the pupils’ exclusive use during regular school hours is one workable alternative. The expenses would probably rise if boards don’t allow for this flexibility, according to Cyboard School strategic director Madhuri Parti.
While the government’s efforts to keep cost increases to five to six percent are admirable, private schools feel that they are limited in their ability to enhance the entire school atmosphere and student experience. Options like working numerous shifts or using the infrastructure for other purposes need to be taken into consideration in order to optimise resource utilization. Schools do, in fact, have a solution to slow down the growth in educational costs; the only question is whether or not they will use it. Time will tell.