Black-Market Education


Newsweek notes the rise of private universities in the developing world, and makes an interesting observation:

Public schools teach "students to think about joining the commanding heights, not to become a junior partner in a firm," says University of Illinois economist Salim Rashid. "They [are] misfits when they get out into the real world." Many new private schools, on the other hand, offer practical courses, top teachers and accountability. "If you pay for education, you keep a much closer eye on it," says Rashid.

As longtime Hit & Run readers know, the rise of independent schools in the Third World isn't limited to universities. Newsweek has noticed this as well:

The story was perhaps most dramatic in China. [James] Tooley and his chief researcher, Qiang Liu, traveled to the poorest, most remote villages of Gansu province. Officials there insisted there were no private schools. And so it seemed, until Qiang woke up one morning at dawn and canvassed the vegetable market. Sure enough, women who'd traveled there from the neighboring countryside told him about private schools farther up in the mountains. "In the end, our survey found 586 of them in these remote villages, where the government and [aid workers] said there were none."

Elsewhere the private schools were easier to spot and even more numerous. In Delhi, hand-painted signs advertise low-cost private schools at every twist of the narrow lanes. In Hyderabad, 60 percent of the schools serving poor neighborhoods are private. None of them get state aid, and two thirds are not recognized by the government at all–meaning they are essentially black market….

The numbers suggest that despite the low prices (as little as $1.50 a month), parents believe such schools do a better job than the government. And they're generally right.

[Via Tim Swanson.]