Where Private School Is Not a Privilege
Thursday, May 9, 2013
In the United States, private school is generally a privilege of the rich. But in poorer nations, particularly in Africa and South Asia, families of all social classes send their children to private school. The private schools within reach of the poor, however — usually a single classroom a woman runs in her house — are not a big improvement. But two school systems — Bridge International Academies in Kenya and BRAC in Bangladesh — are offering something different: they are making decent education accessible to the world’s poorest on a giant scale.
Both BRAC and Bridge are large and getting larger. BRAC has more than 1.25 million children in its schools in Bangladesh and six other countries, and it is expanding. Bridge is smaller, with 50,000 children, but it is only four years old, and it is opening a new school in Kenya every 2.5 days and is moving into other countries. BRAC puts its schools mainly in remote rural villages, Bridge in urban slums. They both serve the poor — and serve them relatively well. But that is about all they have in common.