Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice
The education department worked with schools this year to try to match students and seats; lack of alignment between student preferences and school availability meant that about half the 2012-13 applicants were turned away, while a couple thousand seats went unused. Still, the percentage of applicants that eventually enrolled remained in the 50 percent to 60 percent range.
This type of voucher has been adopted by developing countries notably Bangladesh, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Lesotho as well as by industrial countries such as Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Much of the recorded experience with such programs is pertinent to the long standing theoretical debates on the desirability of voucher systems.
The goal of all voucher plans to provide families with maximum choice within a decentralized and competitive system of schools embodies four principles consumer choice personal advancement the promotion of competition and equal opportunity consumer choice in education, equals parental choice parents choose schools for their children by virtue of their parental authority and are thus in a fundamental sense the real consumers of education. Under a voucher plan government serves the consumers of education parents rather than the suppliers of education schools.
The second principle that of personal advancement is rooted in the conviction that people want to shape their own destinies. The opportunity to choose and to decide stimulates interest participation, enthusiasm, and dedication.
Te third principle, the stimulation of competition applies here because public schools are usually monopolies. The objective of vouchers is to challenge them to compete with each other and with private schools through reducing costs, increasing quality and introducing dynamic innovation.
The fourth principle the goal of equality of opportunity underlying the rationale for vouchers is a logical outcome of the other three and is expressed in the objective of increasing access to private schools.
With vouchers children are not assigned to schools by attendance zones or any other criterion of the schools system. Instead, vouchers enable parents to select a school for their children among any eligible and participating schools public or private in the most common application of th voucher principle, known as ''funds follow the child'' government funding is directed straight to the school chosen by the parent. Because it has no other direct government subsidy each school is thus in competition with every other school for students. Good schools attract many students, redeem many vouchers and prosper. Inferior schools avoided by parents are stimulated to improve or must close down.
In 1981 the Assisted places Scheme was established in the United Kingdom with the aim of providing a ladder of opportunity for able ut poor students. under the scheme today, low income parents can obtain assistance with tuition fees for an independent school if the school has been approved by the Department of Education and Science.
By 1995 about 29,800 students were using these selective vouchers at 294 specified independent schools in England (there is a separate system for Scotland). About 5,000 new pupils enter the program every year. mostly at the ages of eleven of thirteen.
A voucher system was introduced in 1992 and by 1994 was operating in 216 municipalities serving 90,807 low income students in 1,789 schools. The vouchers worth on average about $143 were issued to students entering, the sixth. An early examination of the program confirmed that as intended the vouchers were being successfully allocated exclusively to poor families.
The voucher system was introduced primarily to respond to the shortage of places in public secondary schools in Colombia, where 40 percent of the secondary schools are privately owned. The vouchers help poor students gain access to the private schools simultaneously the vouchers benefit the public secondary schools by reducing overcrowding.
Puerto Rico's governor Pedro Rosello signed a voucher plan into law in September 1993 which was limited to families earning below a given income. The vouchers with $1,500, have been portable between public schools as well as from private to public and public to private schools religious schools were also included.
During the last two decades governments have become increasingly unwilling or unable to continue to raise the share of public expenditure spent on education. The prime focus has switched according to attempts to obtain higher output from given expenditure levels. The used of vouchers valued at much less than 100 percent of the cost per pupil in public schools has already been successful in Sweden, Milwaukee (United States), and Poland and may become a popular way of economizing. Economists. meanwhile see the key role in such efficiency gains to be the gradual removal of the current monopoly structure in education.