There's an obvious thirst for education in India. There are billboards everywhere for schools, convents, universities, and educational institutions of all kinds.
We saw ads for play group to 8th, for civil, electrical and chemical engineering, for hotel management, maritime, nursing, MBAs, fashion, beauty and of course IT and English. One puzzling ad mentioned teaching Math by the abacus method. There were many more, basically anything you could think of.
Schools advertising play group to 8th tend to have names like Sunshine, Rainbow, Sunlight or Sunrise. As you reach higher grades, the names change to more aspirational ones, like Brilliant, Perfect, or Ambition.
While in Varanasi, we were taken on a tour of Benares Hindu University. I thought this would be a yawn, after all the things we'd already seen along the Ganges. But it was actually very interesting. The University has 25,000 students, most of them living in huge hostels on campus. It is spread over immense grounds, with huge impressive buildings housing different faculties. Despite the word Hindu in its name, it houses 'regular' faculties, including the second best medical school in India, according to our guide. There were a couple of departments that we wouldn't see in a Canadian university, like Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. We were told tuition runs about $50-$100 a year, including books, but the students have to fund their own accommodation and food expenses.
Our driver has three daughters. One is doing a BBA intending to go on to an MBA, another taking CA. He shared with us that they were given a choice between a dowrie and an education. He's confident the third will take the same route.