"A Free Education Is Something That Many Parents Will Pay to Avoid"



From The Economist, more about how parents in the poorest countries in the world would still rather pay for private school than send their kids to free (terrible) public school.

A government decision in 2007 [in India] to make primary schooling compulsory and free boosted private-school numbers. Many parents became disenchanted with state-school teachers who failed to show up or taught badly—by, for example, failing to correct errors. Surveys by Pratham, a Mumbai-based charity, suggest that standards in state schools slipped as the system expanded, whereas in the private sector they have held up.

Between a quarter and a third of India students attend public schools, and in the cities that figure rises to 85 percent. As usual, those sassy Brits sum it up nicely:

Despite a rapid rise in attendance since 2000, 72m school-age children across the world are still not in school, half of them in sub-Saharan Africa and a quarter in South and West Asia. The United Nations reckons it would cost $16 billion a year to get the remaining stragglers into class by 2015—one of its big development goals. Yet a free education is something that many parents will pay to avoid.

Read more on how the world's poorest people can't afford not to go private.


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  1. when private ROADZ lead to private edu-macation the circle will be complete.
    >now pass me sum pi

  2. Free education. That’s something money just can’t buy.

  3. Fun fact: Most US state constitutions require public schools.

    1. Yes, living in Texas I’m well aware of the fubared language in our state constitution about public education. It only crops up to screw things up every two years.

      1. NH as an add-on to that bullshit:

        “The state constitution [of New Hampshire] is one of the few that does not expressly require public schools. However, in 1993, the state Supreme Court ruled in the first Claremont suit that a constitutional duty to “cherish the interest of…public schools” required the state to define and fund equal public schools statewide. The legislature complied slowly; in 2008, the Court ended its supervisory role because the original laws had been replaced, but it did not reverse its earlier finding.”

      2. On the other hand, the Texan supreme law also contains this:

        “All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.”

      3. On the other hand, I can homeschool by teaching reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and citizenship any way I want.

    2. But the US Constitution does not require a Department of Education.

      Not a single Constitution in force in the United States requires that anyone actually attend a public schools.

      1. I was citing that fact in abject protest, AC. There’s not a person alive that hates the mother-fucking Department of Education or our public schools than me.

        1. *more

        2. I hate the DoE more than I hate you.

    3. That’s not fun at all! It’s like you’re being sarcastic or something!

  4. I’m told by my Filipina friend that many poor rural kids in that country would rather work in a factory making money to pay for private school than go to a free government school.

    1. There’s a similar pattern even in Russia. I’ve met a few people living in the old country (a family in Moscow, and two in Rostov) who are straining the living out of themselves to pay for private schooling instead of sending their kids to the public shitholes, even in Moscow.

      Semi-OT: That the Communist Party is a major presence in the former RSFSR is fucking unconscionable.

      1. In Soviet Russia, public “schools” YOU!

      2. That the Communist Party is a major presence in the former RSFSR is fucking unconscionable.

        Says something awful about human nature or maybe just Russians.

    2. From living in Thailand, I can support that. Only the children of families in abject poverty send their kids to government school (where the teachers were pseudo-military/police-like uniforms!)

      Interestingly enough, a whole industry of private education has developed in that country, with different schools offering different services and pricing to attract costumers from the working class all the way to the crony-capitalist elite.

      Of course, it is vulgar to refer to ‘education’ as an ‘industry’ and ‘students’ as ‘costumers,’ right?.

      1. Only if the students are designing costumes.

        1. And only if those costumes are sold for profit.

      2. “Right?”

        No, not exactly.

        The parents, who pay the tuition, are the customers, not the students.

      3. Of course, it is vulgar to refer to ‘education’ as an ‘industry’ and ‘students’ as ‘costumers,’ right?

        If education isn’t an industry, why do American colleges demand payment upfront and in full? K-Mart has layaway plans, some furniture stores have rent-to-own plans, even drug dealers can sell product on consignment.

        1. My lawyers charge up front.

          1. A retainer? Or is your lawyer working for something other than billable hours?

            1. His lawyer is Saul Goodman, if that’s any help.

              1. If I were a criminal mastermind, I’d want Saul Goodman to be my lawyer, too.

      4. Only if the students are designing costumes.

        Goddammit. Serves me right for a quick posting during a coffee break.

    3. My wife is seeking full-time employment so that we can pay for our children to attend private school.

      There is no fucking way that I will EVER send my rug rats to public school; my desire is to stay out of jail, and if my children attended public schools, I’m sure that I would be unable to stay out of jail.

      1. Why, have you been teaching them civil disobedience to bad laws or something?

        1. No. I’m still trying to find the right way to tell my children (5 and 1) that the police are NOT our friends and that not all rules are worth following. I’m not yet sure how to reconcile that with the message that virtually everyone else gives them.

          Check my blog ( ) and see any of the posts headlined by “Reason 1,254,9xx”. Were my kids exposed to any of that bullshit, they’d have one very mad libertarian guy up in their shit causing a ruckus. Were it to involve physical harm, that visit would result in a teacher or administrator who has had the living fuck beat out of him, followed by a very, very mad libertarian guy who is being led away in handcuffs/ambulance/coroner’s van.

          My public schooling is, in very large part, why I came to libertarianism. I won’t subject my children to the same abject humiliation and abuse I received as a child in public schools.

          1. Well, that does explain a bit. I went through plenty of cruelty and abuse in public school myself until the seventh grade when my parents took up homeschooling me instead. School was hellish enough back then, and that was half a lifetime ago. From reports I hear nowadays, things have only gotten worse since then.

            Here’s another recent story you might feel like adding to that list. I’ve been shopping this one out under various aliases in different places, but so far a lot of people don’t seem to realize the kids (sexes unspecified, you’ll notice) were probably just doing what the school itself taught them to do.

  5. Nice to know public schools suck everywhere, not just the US.

    1. Apparently they don’t suck in the US. Most Americans don’t opt for private schools despite making a shitload more.

      1. The middle class in most of this country has enough pull to be able to effect changes if their schools suck too badly. The urban poor, not so much.

      2. Au contraire, they suck big moldy green weenies; the trouble is, so do the parents who willingly send their kids to them. Public school is really nothing but institutionalized child abuse.

  6. I’m paying a thousand a month to avoid free education of a child.

    1. I’m paying $750.

    2. Slightly over $1k monthly on a 12 month cycle, for a school that schools my child on 9 month cycles.

  7. Why did they go all the way to India when they already had a bureau in Washington DC and New York that could have written the same story?

    1. Maybe for the chicken tikka masala?

  8. At least that bike is in good shape. The kids in DC have to take the metro.

  9. Yet a free education is something that many parents will pay to avoid.

    You get what you pay for, even in India.

  10. Clearly these poor, non-Caucasian people don’t understand the glories of public education. The parents themselves must not have been properly educated, so how could they possibly understand their own interests?

  11. Behindertsein ist sch?n

    1. German for monotonous?

      1. Deutsch for “derp”

        1. Good to know! Thanks!

  12. In Eastern Europe under communism, all school was free. And no teacher could be fired. So nothing got done during the class day. If you wanted an education, your parents paid your teachers to tutor you after school.


  13. A government decision in 2007 [in India] to make primary schooling compulsory and free boosted private-school numbers.

    First Law Of Government: “Any thing you mandate will result in something totally contrary to what you expected.”

    1. Corollary: “….assuming, of course, that your intentions and expectations actually were as benevolent as you claimed.”

  14. I don’t understand why we need to talk about India; the exact same truth exists in Anaheim, CA.
    My brother doesn’t want his kids to be forced to learn spanish, as half the public class doesn’t speak english.

  15. We are facing this right now in the good old USA. There are about a half-dozen couples with small children in my close cohort. We are all zoned for crappy elementary schools. All of us are looking into private schools, despite not having a lot of extra money.

    Despite the expense, we’ll all probably be paying to place our kids in private school. And although at least half of the group are not church-going folk, we are all considering religious schools.

    For those anti-religious right lefties out there: Do you think there would be more secular private schools if we had true school choice (vouchers), or less?

    (there’s more than a dozen private schools in the immediate area. Only two are secular. Only one is more expensive than the average cost per pupil of the public schools.)

    1. I think there would be more secular private schools, but I’m suspicious of vouchers for two reasons: I don’t want to funnel tax dollars into the hands of the religious. Vouchers are an even more imperfect solution than state schools; better solution – parents responsible for educating their own children (or not).

      Having said that, I’d rather see my grandaughter in a (mainstream) episcopal school than a failing public school.

      FWIW, many hear think I’m a lefty, but I’m frequently slammed as a rightist by my smug liberal friends.

      1. I don’t think you’re a lefty Tonio. Unless you are the sane alter-ego to Tony.

      2. Given that I already resent tax money going to fund the Atheist madrassas (a.k.a. public schools), I agree vouchers don’t really solve the underlying problem; they just change where the tax money goes. The real solution is to abolish government schooling altogether and privatize all education, which will happen just as soon as our governments lose the capacity to beg, borrow, steal, or print any more money.

        Of course, the way things are going, that day can’t be too far off now; just further away than we doom-and-gloomers generally would prefer it to be.

      3. I’m sure that the quality of parochial schools vary widely. I am quite satisfied with the Catholic High School we send our Protestant kids to.

        What the Catholics really do is block out all the PC bullshit the public schools foist on their students. And yes, they teach evolution in Biology.

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