Due to concerted legal and policy level efforts by the Indian government, India has achieved impressive growth in elementary school enrolment during past years. Female participation has increased at all levels of education including elementary education.
However, careful examination of enrolment data shows one disturbing or discriminatory trend. In most of the Indian states girls’ enrolment is higher than that of boys in government schools but the pattern gets reversed in terms of private schools. In other words, fewer girls are in private schools and parents have preference for private school for educating their sons.
How to explain the increased female participation in government school and big gender gap in private school enrolment? Unlike government school private schools in India are fee charging schools and perceived as ‘good quality’ or better school and mostly impart instruction in ‘English’.
In Indian patriarchal social system girls’ education is considered less important than that of boys, so girls usually get whatever education available ‘free’ or less expensive, whereas boys receive ‘better quality’ private education and it becomes a new marker of gender discrimination in education.
The present paper used secondary data analysis of school enrolment data of government and private unaided school available in public domain and found that this new form of gender discrimination is prevalent throughout India with regional variations.
Keywords: Enrolment, Gender discrimination, Growth, Private school.
 Professor, Faculty of Education, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi -221010, U. P., India., & Fulbright Visiting Scholar, University of Maryland, USA