Seema Patel

Private Schools for the Poor (II)

Private School Poor Book

The people of Naini were angry. The primary school in their impoverished Himalayan village had just two teachers for more than 110 children in the first through fifth grades. Their kids spent most of the time working on their own. With so many students per teacher, and each teacher working with five grade levels, one father of two boys, farmer Diwan Singh Rawat, asked: ’’How is the teacher going to teach?’’ Rawat, who supplements his agricultural income by running a small shop that sells biscuits, candies, and cigarettes, says: ’’Even if children go for six months to the government school, they don’t learn anything.’’

Excerpt from Business Week online – International Letter from India: Why India’s Poor Pay for Private SchoolsProfessor James Tooley is an authority on this issue (see my earlier post on private schools for the poor) and has been involved in a two-year research project, titled, “Private Schools Serving the Educational Needs of the Poor: A Global Research and Dissemination Project” funded by an $800,000 Templeton research grant. Through data collection and case studies, Professor Tooley and his research team have been examining educational performance, cost effectiveness and impact on social factors such as crime with regard to government schools. Like the popular microfinance model that has made a global impact in the world of philanthropy, Tooley’s findings suggest that the root causes of poverty can be best addressed when people have a stake in their own educational destiny.

The Goal of the Study
Across the developing world, private schools are emerging that provide educational opportunities for some of the poorest people on the planet. Often such private schools are provided by entrepreneurs who combine the search for profit with serving the educational interests and aspirations of the poor, offering quality education where government fails to deliver. Such private schools, parents believe, are better serving poor communities than government schools, perhaps because they have certain features that render them inevitably superior to government provision and funding. This study sets out to explore to what extent parents are justified in their beliefs.

There are a number of interesting research articles and reports that can be found in this study, as well as related articles that are definitely worth a read-through including contributions from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

I would also suggest checking in on other perspectives behind this idea.