Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Private education for the poor?

Mrs. Angus and I greatly enjoyed "The Beautiful Tree" by James Tooley and have become very interested in the potential making private education available for the poor especially in areas where the public school system has failed them.

So I was happy to see that the Oxfam Blog "From Poverty to Power", was hosting a debate on the merits of private schooling for the poor.

Arguing in favor is Justin Sandefur from the Center for Global Development.

Arguing against is Kevin Watkins from Brookings.

Public education is a real problem in many parts of many poor countries. While enrollment rates are rising, as called for by the Millennium Development Goals, achievement (i.e. actual learning) is often quite poor. Even Watkins concedes this point.


Tom said...

Has the word "equality" gotten banal or passé?

The anti guy, Kevin Watkins, substitutes "equity". I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Watkins: "... if we care about equity, there is no credible alternative to a public system that offers opportunity for all rather than choice for some." Could it be that governments’ "free and compulsory" education system has crowded out innovation and alternatives?

Watkins then goes on to describe " governments’ failure" in some detail. Conclusion: "...But what passes for education now is a travesty." Uh, yeah Kevin, we knew that. Governments are failing. How about trying some Choice in schooling? Watkins dismisses this because it's a
"rehash" of ideas that are (gasp!) 50 years old. I think some very good ideas are far older than that. Let's finally give this one a decent trial.

Andrew said...

Thanks for posting this. I would have missed it otherwise. I got to Kevin Watkins' post a bit late but left a comment correcting him on basic economics anyway.

I read The Beautiful Tree in part due to your recommendation and enjoyed it. Education is a tough nut to crack, and even if we knew how to fix it, the political economy side of it is depressing at best.

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