June 1, 2007

Educating Amaretch

  • James Tooley

Key materials
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The accepted wisdom says that the poor need billions of dollars more in donor aid for state education. But this ignores the reality that poor parents are abandoning government schools to send their children to 'budget' private schools that charge very low fees, affordable to parents on minimum wages. Recent research shows that private schools for the poor are superior to government schools – teachers are more committed, the provision of inputs is better and educational outcomes are better – even after controlling for background variables. All this is accomplished for a fraction of the per-pupil teacher cost of government schools. The development community could therefore assist the poor by extending access to private schools through targeted vouchers. There are also opportunities for investors to contribute through microfinance-type loans, dedicated education investment funds and joint ventures with educational entrepreneurs, including the development of brands of budget private schools to help solve the information problem facing poor parents.