India, Dec. 4 -- What is "public" about public education? Schools that are funded largely by tax revenues generated by the State, and run by the State through any of its bodies are called public schools. Such a system of schools is what constitutes public education. This commonly shared understanding is usually quite adequate. H0owever, this notion deserves closer scrutiny, with people's expectations from education soaring and delivery falling way short.

So, what is "public" in public education? At its core, it is about being equally available to all. It is also about people coming together to further the public good through education. So, the word "public" has at least two aspects: for whom-equally for all; and, for what and why-for the p...