Does Privatising the Public Interest Guarantee School Quality in India? Looking through the Lens of Teacher Education

Published date01 December 2018
Date01 December 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Indian Journal of Public
64(4) 565–586
© 2018 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556118788440
Does Privatising the Public
Interest Guarantee School
Quality in India? Looking
through the Lens of
Teacher Education
N. Mythili1
There is a monopolistic competition in teacher education (TE) at the national level,
characterised by a large number of substandard private stand-alone institutions.
There is oligopoly at the regional level in which few states provide TE to the entire
region. This is especially true for southern and western regions. Substandard
private stand-alone teachers educational institutions (TEIs) are in majority in
these regions. In this way, substandard private institutions have captured the
TE market. So monopolistic competition has not contributed to TE quality in
India. Oligopoly has neither ensured fair distribution of teachers nor adequately
addressed teachers’ deficit within the regions. National Council of Teacher
Education (NCTE), as a regulatory body, has failed to control these two market
behaviours due to its own inherent weaknesses such as lack of skills, bureaucratic
ineptitude and lack of ability to handle the complexity of technical knowledge.
All these have led to information asymmetry within NCTE and poor teacher
quality. In turn, school education suffers from lower levels of student learning.
So, privatising the public interest of TE does not guarantee quality. NCTE must
develop a robust TE management information system to address its inherent
Public interest, private interest, teacher education (TE), teacher education
institutions (TEIs), National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), information
asymmetry, teacher quality
1 Assistant Professor, National Centre for School Leadership, National Institute of Educational
Planning and Administration, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
N. Mythili, Assistant Professor, National Centre for School Leadership, National Institute of
Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi 110016, India.
566 Indian Journal of Public Administration 64(4)
Teacher Education within the Milieu of Public
Interest in School Education
Public Interest in Education
For the first time, the Supreme Court recognised elementary education as a funda-
mental right in Mohini Jain vs. State of Karnataka (AIR 1958, SCC 666, 1992).
It stated that Right to Education directly flows from Right to Life under Article 21
of the constitution. The dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is
accompanied by the right to education. Later, in Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra
Pradesh (AIR 2178, SCR (1)594, 1993), the Supreme Court declared that every
child/citizen of this country has the Right to Free Education until s/he completes
the age of 14 years, and after the completion of 14 years, his/her life is circum-
scribed by the economic capacity of the state and its development. This verdict
was derived from Directive Principles of the Constitution stated under Articles 41,
45 and 46.1 In 2002, Article 21A was inserted through the 86th Amendment of the
Constitution known as ‘Right to Education’. A conforming act was passed in the
parliament in the year 2009 to provide free and compulsory elementary education
for all children aged 6–14 years (hereafter referred to as RTE Act, 2009). In this
way, elementary education became a fundamental right in India. Also, erstwhile
Article 45 was substituted with the state endeavouring to provide early childhood
care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years. Hence,
school education is of the nature of public interest.
Pursuing public interest in government and professional standards of practices
is defined by two demands: to reflect on its many facets disclosed through broad
representation and dialogue and to engage genuinely the duties and values associ-
ated with four aspects of public interest, namely democracy, mutuality, sustain-
ability and legacy (Carol, 2006, p. 696). Public interest is also discussed variously
as public good, social interest, public objective and common good. Education
is a primary good to many other public and private goods. Public goods have
two special characteristics, that is, non-excludability (Samuelson, 1954) and non-
rivalry (Musgrave, 1969). Non-excludability means it is either impossible or too
expensive to exclude people from consumption who fail to pay for the goods.
Non-rivalry means consumption of these types of goods is not at the expense of
another person. School education, being a fundamental right of children under the
constitution and the conforming RTE Act, 2009, characterises both non-rivalry
and non-excludability.
School education also stands at the crossroads of two legitimate rights
(Levin, 1987). First is the right of a democratic society to assure its reproduction and
continuous democratic functioning through providing a common set of knowledge
and values, equality of economic, social and political opportunities to all, cultural
and scientific progress of the nation and economic growth and employment oppor-
tunity. Second is the right of families to decide the ways in which their children will
be exposed that enhances individual productivity, trainability, health, efficiency
in consumption, access to information, political participation, inculcation of
civic values, social status, technical and cultural literacy and promotion of family
values (p. 630). The first legitimate right is of the nature of public interest to be

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