Professor James Tooley of Newcastle University has done intriguing research on private schooling in some of the poorest areas of the world, in India, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. His team of researchers mapped populated areas and then walked through them, street by street, counting schools in three categories: government schools, schools that are “recognized” by the education authorities, and private schools that are “unrecognized,” operating illegally, completely off the radar screen of the education authorities. The government schools are free of charge; the private schools charge fees. Tooley’s team … tested a large sample of both private and government school students in English and math. … Tooley found that in the poorest areas, the slums of India, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya:
- Between sixty and seventy percent of all schools are fee-charging private schools, and between sixty and seventy percent of all children living there attend them.
- The schools are for-profit, commercial operations. Nevertheless, nearly all the proprietors, who also care about their communities, offer free places for the poorest children.
- In tests of academic achievement administered to large numbers of randomly selected children in both government and private schools, the private school children performed much better across the board.
That is from the final chapter of Free Our Markets. Anyone interested in education should know about Tooley’s work. His illuminating and charming book that tells the story of his research is The Beautiful Tree. For a fine quick look at Tooley, some of the schools, some of the children, and some of the public school officials, see this short video from BBC Newsnight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5J4FNEfS-4. Much more information is available at the E.G. West Centre’s website, egwestcentre.com