Institute for Social and Economic Change

Established in 1972 by Professor V K R V Rao, ISEC is an All-India Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Training in the Social Sciences

Covid-19 Pandemic and Primary Education in India: Does It Cause More Inequality Between Public and Private Schools? – isec

Covid-19 Pandemic and Primary Education in India: Does It Cause More Inequality Between Public and Private Schools?


This study aims to examine the extent of inequality between public and private schools related to primary education in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. In specific, the study examines the transformation of the teaching-learning process through digitalisation and to understand how egalitarian is the transformation, explicitly focusing on the differential impact between public and private school-going children in the context of their socio-economic backgrounds. To accomplish the objectives, we have conducted a primary survey comprising online and offline modes with parents of both private and public school-going children. The survey covers 377 samples of parents and spread over rural and urban areas in Karnataka state (India). We follow a 2SLS-based instrumental variable approach to study the causal effect of ‘choice of school’ on study hours of the children and the access to resources for online classes. Results show a clear difference existing between public and private schools. In fact, the inequality component has gone up considerably when the hours of online schooling are added to study hours at home, depicting the intensification of the gap between private and public schools drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, we have observed a negative relationship between ‘choice of public school’ and ‘access to resources for online classes’, implying that the public school-going children have lower access to the resources that are required to attend online classes, which is a matter of grave concern if the online mode of teaching-learning processes are implemented for public schools. Although there have been several interventions made to address the issue by the government and other institutions, there is an enormous scope for improvement to address concerns to avoid long-term implications that could aggravate the inequity even further.

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