Clean Toilets, Inspired Teachers: How India’s Capital Is Fixing Its Schools

The Aam Aadmi Party, which rose to power in New Delhi, is overhauling an education system that serves as a lifeline for millions of families looking to break the cycle of poverty.

Karan Deep Singh

By Karan Deep Singh

Aug. 16, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET

“NEW DELHI — Pradeep Paswan used to skip school for weeks, sometimes months. His classrooms with tin ceilings were baking hot in the summer. The bathrooms were filthy.

Now, he gets dressed by 7 a.m., in a blue shirt and trousers, eager to go to school, in a new building where the toilets are clean. “I come to school because I know that I can become something,” said Mr. Paswan, 20, who is in the 12th grade and dreams of becoming a top officer in India’s elite bureaucracy.

In India, where millions of families look to education to break the cycle of poverty, public schools have long had a reputation for decrepit buildings, mismanagement, poor instruction, even tainted lunches. Mr. Paswan’s school, in a working-class Delhi neighborhood, was known as “the red school,” for the regular brawls on campus and the color of its uniforms.”