Inequality of Opportunity in Access to Primary Education: Case of Indian Children
Ashish Singh, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR)
Every child deserves an opportunity of quality education comparable to any other child. If a child’s access to education depends on circumstances such as caste, religion, gender, place of birth, or other parental characteristics, then it leads to disparity in access based on circumstances which are beyond the control of the child. This unacceptable disparity (inequality of opportunity) needs to be measured and addressed by policy interventions. Using two rounds of Indian National Family Health Surveys, and concepts of Inequality of Opportunity and Human Opportunity Indices, this paper measures inequality arising out of unequal access to primary education for Indian children. The results suggest overall high level of inequality of opportunity with substantial geographical variations. Inequality of opportunity in access to primary education decreased during 1992-93 to 2005-06 but the decrease varied considerably across different geographical regions, which calls for regional focus apart from national level policy revisions.