Pondering private schools before the concert starts
Live 8 will be playing this weekend at a big city near you (in our location, Philadelphia), and then Bob Geldorf and Bono will be speaking at the upcoming G8 Summit. I hope they find time to read this article: Give Africa a private schooling.
In Africa, as here, parents want choice in schooling.
Bob Geldof and Bono rave about how an extra 1m-plus children are now enrolled in primary school in Kenya. All these children, the accepted wisdom goes, have been saved by the benevolence of the international community — which must give $7 to $8 billion (£3.8 to £4.4 billion) per year more so that other countries can emulate Kenya’s success.
The accepted wisdom is wrong. It ignores the remarkable reality that the poor in Africa have not been waiting, helplessly, for the munificence of pop stars and western chancellors to ensure that their children get a decent education. Private schools for the poor have emerged in huge numbers in some of the most impoverished slums and villages in Africa. They cater for a majority of poor children and outperform government schools, for a fraction of the cost.
The results are replicated in not only Kenya, but Ghana and Nigeria too.
Not that the “public” schools were free to begin with,
The final rub was that “free” primary education was not only poor quality, it was also not “free”. Perhaps to keep slum children out — certainly the headmistress from Olympic, where the chancellor visited, was candid that she objected to the “dirty, smelly and uncouth” slum children in her smart school — state schools insist that parents purchase two sets of uniforms before the term starts, including shoes — prohibitively expensive to parents from the slums. One parent told me: “I prefer to pay school fees and forget the uniform.”
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