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The cost of getting a (decent) education in India is skyrocketing

AP Photo/Saurabh Das
As many as 25% of students across the country were reported to be taking private tuition classes.
  • Maria Thomas
By Maria Thomas

Writer at Quartz India

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Millions of Indian parents are, quite literally, paying the price for the country’s abysmal education system.

Between 2008 and 2014, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) reported (pdf) last week, the average annual private expenditure for general education (primary level to post graduation and above) has shot up by a staggering 175% to Rs6,788 per student.

During the same period, the annual cost of professional and technical education has increased by 96% to Rs62,841 per student.

And here’s exactly what the 65,926 Indian households—both urban and rural—that the NSSO surveyed in early 2014 are spending this money on.

Private coaching accounted for 15% of the average total expenditure on general education. As many as 25% of students across the country were reported to be taking private tuition classes, suggesting how pervasive the industry has become.

But given the sorry state of India’s education system, this is no surprise. According to the latest Annual Status of Education report, which assesses government schools in the country, nearly 20% of students surveyed from Class 2 didn’t recognise the numbers between one and nine, and only 25% of students in Class 3 could do subtraction

Part of this learning problem has to do with the state of teachers in the country. Last month, for instance, 220 English teachers in Punjab demonstrated their own ineptitude in the English language when asked to provide written replies to explain their students’ poor performance. The alarming mistakes ranged from incorrect tenses to spelling disasters, such as “leak” instead of “lack” and “vacent” instead of “vacant.”

With public spending on education stuck at the woefully low level of just 3.9% of government expenditure, Indian parents are being forced to burn an increasingly large hole through their pockets to ensure that their children can get a decent education.

In Delhi alone, the average expenditure on general education has grown three times since 2008. This starts right from the nursery level, with parents spending more money on donations and fees than the cost of degrees at Delhi University and even some management institutes.

Here are the five costliest states for general education in India:

The NSSO survey also reported that the cost of technical education has jumped significantly, particularly in states such as Kerala, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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