ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Theft, Corruption, and Parental School Choice in Manipur

Theft and corruption with impunity make it near impossible to run publicly-funded schools in many parts of the country. It is from one such school in Manipur that this article describes the hurdles faced by teachers, students, and parents in keeping alive the possibility of affordable education for all.

Writing about the development of parental school choice in the US in the early 1980s, David Hogan argues that, as a matter of legitimate right, parents exercise opportunity in school choice as they are better judges for their children. However, beginning in the late 1980s, state-run schools were failing rapidly, giving space to private schools to make inroads. The same trend could be seen in various parts of developing countries including in ­India Manipur.

In Manipur these developments appeared early, with the establishment of Catholic schools, which acted as models, encouraging private schools that charged high fees to children of affluent families who tend to send their children to these schools. In the state, private schools quickly became very successful in providing the complete package – ageneral feel-good-factor atmosphere in the school, a compound wall, discipline, accountability and autonomy, weekly tests, examination and grading systems, clean habits, school uniforms, emphasis on English, class consciousness, etc. Parents consider the whole package essential for a successful future for their children in today’s era of fierce competition. The package is however found visibly missing in state schools, which helps justify parents’ choice for a private school over a government school. Failure of inspection systems, systematic irregularities in resource allocation and theft and ­corruption are however compelling factors that lead poor parents to abandon government schools.

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