Monday, June 29, 2009

Markets in education

City Journal reviews The Beautiful Tree, A Personal Journey Into How the World' Poorest People Are Educating Themselves:
But while on a sightseeing excursion to the city’s teeming slums, Tooley observed something peculiar: private schools were just as prevalent in these struggling areas as in the nicer neighborhoods. Everywhere he spotted hand-painted signs advertising locally run educational enterprises.
When he related his Hyderabad discovery at the World Bank office in Delhi, for example, one staffer “launched into a tirade”: such private schools, she said, were ramshackle and shoddy; they ripped off the poor by charging money for worthless instruction; their owners were motivated solely by profits; and their teachers were unqualified, unskilled, and ineffective.
The data Tooley unearthed are fascinating. Not only do networks of private schools for the poor exist across the developing world—networks that emerged without any government- or NGO-sponsored help—but their students learn far more than do those of government- and NGO-funded public schools.
Milton Friedman would love this book.

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