The shifting politics of the private in education: debates and developments in researching private school outreach in India

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This paper addresses the politics of researching private education with special reference to the Indian context. Due to a recent increase in privatised forms of education globally and recognition of the private sector by governments, international agencies and researchers as a policy and academic interest, this is shifting ground. The evolving nature of the politics of researching the private in the recent past is discussed with reference to research on private school outreach for out-of-school children in India. First the author critically examines the reception of this research when it was conducted in 2000–2003 in relation to the discourse and policy in Indian education at the time. The research is then revisited in the contemporary context in the light of considerable changes in Indian education policy, involving increased public–private partnership. In this new climate private school outreach is reconceptualised – previously considered an educational anomaly, it now has renewed relevance. Finally, findings from the research are drawn on to shed light on emerging concerns about the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act's (2009) requirement for private schools to reserve at least 25% of school places for economically disadvantaged children in their neighbourhoods.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-225
JournalComparative Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2012