Public School Blues
Private Schools Saving the Day in the Third World

It turns out, inefficient public education isn’t just an American or even a Western problem. Across the world, public schools are failing kids, yet there’s some good news to be had: private schools are on the rise, even in the poorest of countries. The Economist reports:

“The failure of state education, combined with the shift in emerging economies from farming to jobs that need at least a modicum of education, has caused a private-school boom. According to the World Bank, across the developing world a fifth of primary-school pupils are enrolled in private schools, twice as many as 20 years ago. So many private schools are unregistered that the real figure is likely to be much higher. A census in Lagos found 12,000 private schools, four times as many as on government records. Across Nigeria 26% of primary-age children were in private schools in 2010, up from 18% in 2004. In India in 2013, 29% were, up from 19% in 2006. In Liberia and Sierra Leone around 60% and 50% respectively of secondary-school enrolments are private.”

Unfortunately, statist educators also seem to be a global problem:

Powerful teachers’ unions are part of the problem. They often see jobs as hereditary sinecures, the state education budget as a revenue stream to be milked and any attempt to monitor the quality of education as an intrusion. The unions can be fearsome enemies, so governments leave them to run schools in the interests of teachers rather than pupils. […]

By and large, politicians and educationalists are unenthusiastic [about private schools]. Governments see education as the state’s job. Teachers’ unions dislike private schools because they pay less and are harder to organise in. NGOs tend to be ideologically opposed to the private sector. The UN special rapporteur on education, Kishore Singh, has said that “for-profit education should not be allowed in order to safeguard the noble cause of education”.

Innovative private schools are part of the answer overseas as well as in the U.S. As the Economist says, “Governments that are too disorganised or corrupt to foster this trend should get out of the way.” We couldn’t put it better.


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