A Real Education Revolution

In the video below, Indian scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems in education: the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. The reason this problem exists is because the state has a monopoly on schooling. It has marred incentives. Why would an individual go to a 'trouble zone', or into a rural area, for the exact same pay they would receive for teaching in a ‘trouble free' environment near a city?

How much money should teachers be paid? What are the costs and benefits? One of the many problems of socialism is both the lack of incentives it produces and the inability for central planners to get the right information to make the correct decisions. They lack the pricing mechanism supplied by the market – that of profit and loss.

What is amazing is that even in some of the poorest areas, parents are willing to spend $2 a day to educate their children, even when public schools are available.

When James Tooley first discovered low-cost private schools for the poor in urban slums and rural areas in India, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and China, aid agency officials and local government administrators did not receive the news warmly.

Most flat out denied that such schools existed. Even if they do exist, said the experts, they can’t possibly be any good. School owners that run for-profit schools in shantytowns and poor villages are just exploiting poor communities. Their teachers are untrained and poorly paid. Their buildings are cramped, dark and filthy. Worst of all, kids don’t learn anything there—they come out “half-baked,” one education official told him.

But what Tooley found, in four years of site visits and a five-country study described in his book The Beautiful Tree, throws a wrench in this familiar-sounding reasoning. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of students in the impoverished areas he studied were in fact attending these allegedly nonexistent schools, even when public options were available.

The initial problem outlined, has now essentially been solved.