As Michelle Kaffenberger points out, parents in the poorest parts of India share a concern of many Americans: Their children don’t actually learn much in the public schools.

A recent Economist article states that between a quarter and a third of school children in India attend private schools. In India’s cities, experts estimate as many as 85 percent of children attend private schools. According toanother report, 73 percent of families in Hyderabad’s slum areas send their children to private schools.

Additionally, private school enrollment has been rising in most of the country, even as public education was legally required to become free and more accessible. Much of the growth is coming from low-cost private schools that cater to poor families and charge tuition as low as $1 per month.

So if the government is providing free education for all children, why are so many poor parents spending their limited income on schooling?

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