India has witnessed enormous expansion of its facilities for elementary education in the recent past. This expansion has not been limited merely to an increase in the number of state-aided private schools. A diversity of schooling options are now available provided both by the state and the private sectors. This paper attempts to examine, through review of recent literature, what this diversity of provisioning means in terms of meaningful access of children to elementary education. The paper notes at the outset the policy shift from the eighties onwards, which saw the creation of para formal delivery systems and the inclusion in the system, of non-state producers of state-provided informal education. Private schools, which have always existed, but were few, and considered preserves of the privileged, are no longer restricted to the elite but may be seen targeting niche clientele from the very rich to all but the destitute. This paper then explores the available literature noting the relative spread of the different types of schools, their enrolment shares, and diversity of structure, cost, and some distinguishing features. The paper also explores research on whether, and how, this diversity of schooling options translates into greater access, participation, learning and transition to the upper primary stage.
CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 32, ISBN: 0-901881-35-X. 57 pp.