Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Why the Denial? Low-Cost Private Schools in Developing Countries and Their Contributions to Education


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Over the past decade, low-cost private schools have burgeoned in developing countries. In some areas, the majority of children are attending the low-cost private unaided schools. Children seem to do better in low-cost private schools compared to government ones, and at a fraction of the teacher cost. Figures show that many children currently purported to be out of school are in fact attending private schools that are unregistered/unrecognised, which are often missing from official data and statistics. But many writers, including some at UNESCO and Oxfam, are in denial over the reality and potentiality of private schooling or, despite the evidence, still assume that in order to provide greater access for the poor the government sector needs to be “fixed.” According to such voices, international aid money through bilateral and multilateral aid needs to focus on government schools. This essay critically examines the arguments of some of those who discount or deny the success and potentiality of private schooling. Some initiatives are also considered that focus on aiding low-cost private schools rather than government ones.