‘Ours is a semi-English medium school.’ : Schooling aspirations and a neighbourhood school in Banaras
In recent decades, private players have emerged as major providers of education in urban India. The popularity of private schools among the lower income groups is extensively reported and has received a mixed response in academic writing. In much of the literature, details about the social context of people identified as the urban poor and as belonging to lower income groups are seldom provided. It is also important to unravel the processes through which they navigate the private educational market in the urban space. This paper attempts to examine the class and status dynamics of families associated with a private school in the city of Banaras. The paper begins with a history of the demarcation of urban space for the poor in the city of Banaras along lines of class, caste and occupation in terms of a ‘weavers’ settlement’. It also seeks to explore how families living in these areas seek to reconstitute their relation to schools through increased monetary and cultural investments with the hope of securing valued cultural resources for their children. A closer examination of school choice, however, suggests how the realisation of such ends remains difficult.