Various studies have noted that students enrolled in private schools in India perform better on average than students in government schools. In this paper, I show that large gaps in the test scores of children in private and public sector education are evident even at the point of initial enrolment in formal schooling and are associated with previous attendance in private and public preschools. Children in the sample were aged between 4.5 and 6 years at the time of the survey and were tested on receptive vocabulary and quantitative skills. Most (albeit not all) children in the sample had attended private and/or government preschools and at the time of the survey, about 44% had made a transition into formal schooling. Attending private pre-schools is associated with substantially, and significantly, higher test scores relative to attending public preschools. A considerable portion of this difference can be removed by controls for parental background and selected child characteristics but the gap remains significant. Possible implications of these results are discussed.
Keywords: school, preschool, learning, inequality, private education.
The final published version of the article is available on the journal website.