Saturday, October 24, 2009

Providing Education to the Poor

Often when we think of private schools, we think of schools that are well funded, run for students with a wealthy background, and in posh neighborhoods. For the poor, we either believe or are told, there is only the public school system. But look closely and you will find another truth: tucked away in slums or little villages in the middle of nowhere are a plethora of private schools. In dilapidated buildings, with poor sanitation, and over-crowded classrooms, they cater to children whose families live on less than $2 a day. When faced with the option of one of these and a government school, parents prefer to send their children to one of these illegitimate institutions. This talk, featuring James Tooley, offers an explanation. Here is an excerpt from a review of his book The Beautiful Tree by John Fox:
In many government schools visited by Tooley, the teachers fail to teach, the children fail to learn, the administrators and bureaucrats skim resources off the top, and Western aid, fixated on government-driven, top-down solutions, simply makes the problem institutional. In the words of one school in Nigeria: "We hear there are funds in the budget. But we don't see it in our community. We don't know where the money goes." Tooley offers example after example of community schools chosen by parents over government schools despite their inferior facilities, for the quality, regularity and commitment of their teachers. 
 H/T: Daniel Gomez

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