A class-action lawsuit was enough to significantly improve the conditions in California’s lowest-performing schools, according to a study to be released Monday. The settlement of the Williams vs California lawsuit filed by civil rights bodies in 2000 took four years and held the state responsible for ensuring compliance in availability of textbooks, skilled teachers and adequate infrastructure.
Back home in India, a very recent report by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration found that more than 32,000 schools—mainly in the rural areas (nearly half are primary schools) do not have a single student. While this figure may partially reflect the preference for private schools, the overall situation is a dismal one. The problems include teacher absenteeism and poor basic facilities, among others.
Alas, litigation here takes decades, and we don’t have a tradition of class action suits. So, can civil society do anything to make the government accountable?