India Uncut

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Karnataka and Quebec

Andrew Coulson is dismayed by the impending crackdown in Karnataka on English-language schools, and points to Quebec as a cautionary tale of having an "English-hostile language law." He writes:
[T]hat’s a lesson that Kannada activists could learn from… Canada. In a fascinating 2004 study of interprovincial migration, geographer Kao-Lee Liaw showed that non-Francophones were five times more likely to emigrate to another province if they lived in Quebec than if they lived in Ontario. And there’s no end in sight. A new report from the Association for Canadian Studies finds that, in 2006, Quebec incurred its single largest net population loss since 2000.

Given that attracting and retaining skilled immigrants is an important ingredient to sustained economic growth, the effects of this non-Francophone exodus are inevitable. Quebec’s economy consistently lags those of Ontario, Canada, and the United States. In fact, Quebec's per capita income ranks 54th in North America—behind all but two U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.
Indeed, Karnataka's status as the IT state of India could be threatened if the local supply of English speakers dries up. But while the economic implications of these new anti-English policies may be scary, the primary issue here is one of choice.

Coulson feels that parents should be empowered to choose the kind of education that their children should get, and that schools should be allowed to compete freely to meet the demands of those parents. I couldn't agree more. If I was a parent, I'd be mighty pissed if the state tried to dictate what kind of education my child could or could not avail of. Wouldn't you?

Also read: Coulson's excellent study, "How Markets Affect Quality" (pdf link), which was a useful source for my WSJA Op-Ed, "Why India needs school vouchers."
amit varma, 11:59 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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