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By Robert Balthazaar

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Surely we need a medical explanation for this sudden jump. Otherwise why would, a parent send his child to grade one but withdraw him before grade two? The question takes the bottom out of the theory that early elimination has a satisfactory economic explanation in our conditions in the late twentieth century. It also hits at the research convention of asking poor parents why they 'withdraw' their children from school. The basis of such interviewing lies in the 'culture of poverty' theory, which continues to influence social research in India.

As Wiener points out in the case of British Public Schools, our elite schools too produced any number of administrators and military men, but very few eminent scientists, engineers and industrial entrepreneurs. Strange though it sounds, but there is reason to see our Public School culture as the agency through which the attitudes and values of England's landed aristocracy have cast a lasting spell on our elites. The recent emergence of a powerful competitive ethic has not influenced this legacy.

As compared with 1950-51 when primary education accounted for 40 per cent of the expenditure incurred on education as a whole, in 1979-80 it accounted for only 24 per cent. 'Plan' allocation for primary education similarly declined from 56 per cent in the First Plan to 29 per cent in the Seventh Plan. This decline becomes particularly meaningful if we place it against the continual increase of India's child population and the increase in the number of primary schools. In comparison to the 150,000 primary schools that India had at the time of independence, it had about 500,000 at the beginning of the present decade.

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