International Aid and Private Schools for the Poor

International Aid and Private Schools for the Poor

Smiles, Miracles and Markets

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Pauline Dixon

This fascinating volume challenges the widely held belief that the state should supply, finance and regulate schooling in developing countries. Using India as an example, Dr. Pauline Dixon examines the ways in which private, for-profit schools might serve as a successful alternative to state-run systems of education in impoverished communities around the world.

Chapter 5: Only the closed mind is certain

Pauline Dixon

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, political economy, education, economics of education


The accepted wisdom is that the poor need free government schools to educate them. This accepted wisdom is misguided. As discussed in Chapter 1, whether it was in nineteenth-century India and England, or, as set out in Chapter 3, in the slums and low-income areas of developing countries in the twenty-first century, Searchers, that is individual private school entrepreneurs, have been working silently out of the spotlight to educate the poor. No government or aid agency was needed, just parents being parents wanting choices and a better future for their children. That is all it took. Poor parents are no different from any other. The miracle of the market took over. As evidence shows, in India, as in other developing countries, low-cost private schools are providing an education for low-income families. Children gain better achievement levels and enjoy better facilities and smaller class sizes than in the government alternative. The poor have not been sitting around waiting for public education reforms to rid state schools of corruption, inefficiencies, or absent and idle teachers; they are abandoning public education and using private schools instead.

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