University of Oulu

Quality early childhood education at low fees : case study in Chennai, India

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Author: Daniel, Rohit1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.6 MB)
Pages: 153
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : R. Daniel, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Estola, Eila
Lehtomäki, Elina


The ubiquity and the poor quality of low-fee private schools in India and other developing countries are well-researched subjects. Studies have also shown that parents from low-income households in these countries are increasingly enrolling their children in these schools. However, not much research has been done on the subset of low-fee private schools that provide good quality education in spite of the financial and systemic challenges associated with such schools. This qualitative case study aims to understand how one such low-fee private school in Chennai, India works to provide good quality early childhood education (ECE).

The case study was guided by five theoretical propositions and two rival propositions which were based on established conceptual frameworks such as Rowan’s (1997) ‘teachers’ effectiveness framework,’ Hallinger’s (2011) ‘leadership for learning model,’ and distributed leadership. The study relied on three types of data sets to help triangulate the findings: (1) classroom observation notes and the rating of the ECE environment using the Tamil Nadu Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (TECERS); (2) semi-structured, in-depth interviews with four preprimary teachers and four school leaders; and (3) relevant documents such as lesson plans used by the preprimary teachers and various webpages from the school’s website.

The findings of the study validated the theoretical propositions while invalidating the rival propositions. The results point to two key drivers of the good quality ECE in the case study school: (1) motivated and capable teachers, and (2) a distributed school leadership that was focused on learning. The findings also brought out the critical role of the school leadership in creating an enabling school culture and in building teacher capacity. Furthermore, the findings validate the conceptual frameworks in the context of low-fee private schools in urban India. However, acknowledging that the findings could have local relevance, further research is recommended in other low-fee private schools in diverse contexts to understand their universal applicability across low-fee private schools in India and other developing countries.

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Copyright information: © Rohit Daniel, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.