April 28, 2014
In 2009, India's new Right to Education Act caught the attention of school choice advocates around the world. Its language guaranteed widespread opportunities for parents to choose private schools using public funds. Local champions of choice were cautiously optimistic, however, warning that the full promise of the law would hinge on the details of implementation and whether new regulations of private schools would threaten, in the end, to limit the landscape of parental choice, not broaden it.
Leading advocates like Centre for Civil Society, an Atlas Network partner, have worked diligently to advise state implementers and to organize private school stakeholders to act as a unified voice. Despite these efforts, we are beginning to see many private schools close, particularly those that served low-income populations, as a result of new state requirements. Atlas Network partner India Institute has carefully tracked these state actions through a new project they are calling "The Daily Wrong." To date, the project has identified 2,962 schools shut down by the law with another 17,871 ordered to do the same. India Institute analysts report if those schools do close that would represent a total of roughly 1.3 million students displaced from the schools their parents chose, and paid, for them to attend. More information about the project can be accessed at www.indiai.org.