Education in India is primarily managed by state-run public education system, which fall under the command of the government at three levels: Central, state and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children aged 6 to 14.

The approximate ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5. Major policy initiatives in Indian education are numerous. Up until 1976, education policies and implementation were determined legally by each of India’s constitutional states. The 42nd amendment to the constitution in 1976 made education a ‘concurrent subject’. From this point on the central and state governments shared formal responsibility for funding and administration of education.

In a country as large as India, now with 28 states and eight union territories, this means that the potential for variations between states in the policies, plans, programs and initiatives for elementary education is vast. Periodically, national policy frameworks are created to guide states in their creation of state-level programs and policies. State governments and local government bodies manage the majority of primary and upper primary schools and the number of government-managed elementary schools is growing.

Simultaneously the number and proportion managed by private bodies is growing. In 2005-6 83.13% of schools offering elementary education (Grades 1-8) were managed by government and 16.86% of schools were under private management (excluding children in unrecognised schools, schools established under the Education Guarantee Scheme and in alternative learning centers). Of those schools managed privately, one third are ‘aided’ and two thirds are ‘unaided’. Enrolment in Grades 1-8 is shared between government and privately managed schools in the ratio 73:27. However in rural areas this ratio is higher (80:20) and in urban areas much lower (36:66).[7]