Public Vs Private Education – A New Experiment By Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy

School Andhra Pradesh

There is a lot of curiosity about forthcoming elections in Andhra Pradesh. It goes for both Assembly and Parliament elections simultaneously with a serious contestation between the ruling regional YSRCP headed by Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy and two other regional parties Telugu Desham Party, headed by N.Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena headed by an emotional cinema actor Pavan Kalyan. The national parties—the BJP and Congress— are nominal players as they are in Tamilnadu. The state wing of the BJP is interestingly headed by Chandrababu Naidu’s sister—in—law and the state unit of the Congress is headed more curiously by younger sister of Jagan Mohan Reddy. Both the national parties chose the women presidents to embarrass their close relative heads of the regional parties. Nowhere in the country this kind of situation was created by the national parties.

However, the battle is going to be between the ruling YSRCP and TDP with an alliance with Jana Sena. Jagan since the 2014 election was a lone fighter. Chandrabababu, on the other hand, was desperate for alliances ever since the state was bifurcated. In 2014 he won 102 seats in alliance with the BJP and in 2019 he lost very badly to Jagan by winning just 23 seats. Hence now he is desperate for alliance with both Pavan Kalyan and the BJP. This, of course,  shows Babu’s nervousness.

Since he attacked Prime Minister Modi just before the 2019 elections, after their alliance broke, the PM is not even giving him an appointment. His trips to Delhi are proving to be more embarrassing. This election is very crucial for the state because after Jagan came to power with a massive majority of 151 out of 175 seats, he changed the development paradigm of the state in a manner that no other state Government in the last 75 years tried.


He shifted the development paradigm from so-called material development of a state to human development by focusing on changing the fundamental structure of school and university education in the state. During the last five years, Jagan took several steps to lay a strong foundation of human development of the state. The first steps that he took were introducing common mediums, English and Telugu, in Government and private schools. This was the most difficult educational reform given the history of the diabolical education system of India. The children of the urban poor and the children of working masses in the agrarian sector were put in an immobile regional language education system by the central and state Governments. The idea of linguistic states created a goose around the neck of state Government schools wherein poor children study. Regional linguistic chauvinism was promoted among the rural masses while the rich put their children in private English medium schools. No Government was allowed to spend good amounts of budget money on school infrastructure, quality teaching, on good food for the poor children whose parents could not afford it. Spending on children for quality education is nothing but spending on human resource development. Discussions in budget sessions of the state assemblies were only on spending money on roads, buildings and occasionally dams. With such investments on material development kickbacks would come to the rulers and middle men. Huge amounts would go into the pockets of contractors.

The Jagan Government changed that model by allocating substantial amounts of budget money for school and university education and also to money transfer schemes to the accounts of the poor children’s parents. This destroyed the middle men role and massive graded cuts by stakeholders in material resource building.

The implication of this shift is that the brokerage system gets weakened. The worry of the opposition parties even if they come to power in 2024 they cannot fully revert to the old pure material resource development model. If Jagan comes back his reforms will deepen where after ten fifteen years a new generation of well educated, confident rural youth will come into the socio-political system. They will not allow an economy that gets used to human resource development changed and also they work for corruption free de-bureaucratized  operations.

The corrupt employees and high end bureaucrats who want to work like ‘civil and police dictators’ at various levels of administration are also unwilling to support this model of development. But certainly the poor rural and urban masses who tasted the money transfer life support the new system. That too getting monitored by village level volunteers on a day to day basis, who are employed by the state for that purpose.

The employment of volunteers to monitor every welfare scheme and help the old and sick get their benefits like old age pensions or rations from Government fare price shops to their doorstep is entirely a novel idea in a democratic administration. Though the middle and high end bureaucrats are unhappy with the volunteer force present in the villages the masses at large are happy. The volunteer in a village is a helping hand to every villager.

Such a model of humanpower development focusing on the schools, colleges has not been tried in any third world country. China, for example, tried with some kind of similar system both in education and health systems. They employed a large number of barefoot doctors. Jagan also created an unparalleled health infrastructure that helped the state in overcoming the Corona crisis with better monitoring systems. The village volunteers did a good job even in the health sector. All these new experiments shocked the contractor class of the nation itself.

The contractor class wants material development but not massive man power development. In my childhood in Telangana the local landlords used to ask the village school teachers not to teach but take salary and be happy at home. Their logic was that if all the village children are educated who will work as child labour around their cattle and who will work as their jeetagandlu (palerlu) after they become adults. At that time landlords saw developing humanpower through education as anti-feudal. Now in AP developing English educated  human power is being seen as an anti-contract capital. Chandrababu is closely linked up to the contract capital and private education sector.   

If Jagan wins in this election of 2024 this model will deepen its roots and nobody will be able to change it in AP. That will also influence the national education system.


For the first time in Indian electoral history, school education has become the central electoral battle. Jagan made the re-positioned Government school education his key agenda to counter his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu’s love for private school education with a clearly divided medium of instruction—English in private and Telugu in Government sector– and also school infrastructure. During his chief ministership both in the united Andhra Pradesh and in the first five years of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh Babu encouraged a massive chain of private box schools up to 12th grade—Narayana and Srichaitanya and others—across the state. These box schools are run in roadside apartments without any open space around the building. They became an educational business mafia by manipulatively drawing thousands of  rural and urban students into high schools and intermediate ( in a system of 10-2) colleges by charging a lakh and above fee per year. The parental struggle for sending children to these box schools became like an educational drug addiction.   

They also established residential systems by collecting much more money tucking them in small apartment rooms. They turned boys and girls into mugging machines without allowing them any scope for physical exercise, sports and games and also outside human interaction. They deployed a method of huge propaganda about their achievements of ranks both in print and digital media through massive advertisements.

Chandrababu made the biggest private education mafia leader of that system, Narayana, who came from his own Kamma caste, as cabinet minister in his first cabinet in just bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.  To break this education business Jagan put in his 2019 election manifesto that if he comes to power he will make all Government schools English medium and with improved infrastructure. He won that election with a massive majority of 151 seats out of 175 seats. Chandrababu got just 23 seats. 

After the Jagan school education model came into force half of private schools are empty. That is a big worry of  this mafia. 

By this election time in 2024 the school education reform of AP has reached to a level where Jagan made his educational achievement as the main campaign issue. He is now mobilizing the parents of school and college-going students as an election force to counter Babu’s alliance and Amaravathi centered campaign.            

The idea of development does not just include physical resources for already existing human beings. It includes the human development of just born children and also the people who will be born in future. The physical resources once built will get worn out in a very short time. But the knowledge base that humans acquire continues from generation to generation. It spreads from region to region, nation to nation. In modern times the discoveries by humans in the realm of knowledge benefit every human being on the earth. Jagan repeatedly says that the most valued property that “I give to the poor families is world class English medium education free in Government schools”.     

The written word that humans developed preserved the knowledge and skills of people will be used by humans for thousands of years. The modern education system helped the process of preservation of knowledge for a longer time than any other physical structure that humans have built in history.

At a time the temple construction was the agenda of Modi Government Jagan made school construction as his plank of vote mobilization. If he wins the election in coming months English medium education school construction will become a national issue. If he loses this experiment will be defeated Babu and Pavan Kalyan are likely to revert the education system back to private corporate loot model. Let us wait and see.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author of many books.

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