Leading educationalist criticises UN proposals for global state primary schooling

September 13, 2005

A leading educationalist is criticising new United Nations (UN) proposals to eliminate all fees in state primary schools globally to meet its goal of universal primary education by 2015.

Professor James Tooley, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, says the UN, which is placing particular emphasis on those regions doing worse at moving towards 'education for all', namely sub-Saharan Afria and South Asia, is "backing the wrong horse". Prof Tooley makes his comments as as the UN meets today, Wednesday September 14, to assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, including Universal Primary Education by 2015.

His opinion is based on new research evidence which shows that private schooling is adequately serving the majority of the poor in developing countries more effectively than state schools.

At the meeting, The UN is expected to argue that progress re primary schooling in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is 'too slow', with 115 million children still out of school. To move forward, the UN is proposing eliminating all fees in state primary schools by 2006, through increased international aid so that all can benefit from free state education.

But new research directed by Prof Tooley, of Newcastle University's School of Education, Communcation and Language Sciences, shows that in poor areas of Africa and India, the majority of poor parents are sending their children to private, not state schools, disturbed by the low quality and lack of accountability in state education. Private schools for the poor, the research shows, "are academically more effective than state schools, and achieve higher results at only a fraction of the cost."

The fact that many poor parents use private, not state schools, has a startling implication: "Education for All is going to be much easier to achieve than is currently believed", says Professor Tooley. In Lagos State, Nigeria, for instance, governments and international agencies believe that 50% of children are out of school. The research shows that it is only 26%, the difference enrolled in unregistered private schools, "off the state's radar".

Where the "success" of free primary education (FPE) is celebrated, as in Kenya, which introduced FPE in 2003, the research shows that the reported increase in enrolment is, at best, children moving from private slum schools - forced to close - to overcrowded state schools. "That's not a success story, it's a disaster, adds Prof Tooley.

Proprietors of private schools serving the poor from Africa, India and China will gather in London for a screening of the BBC World film 'School's Out', that outlines the research's findings. They'll be uniting to launch a new global organisation- Private Education International - which will provide information, foster innovation and mobilise resources for private schools for the poor.
-end-
Contact: Professor James Tooley: 44-797-640-3113 or james.tooley@ncl.ac.uk Weblinks: www.ncl.ac.uk/egwest and www.educationnext.org

Notes to Editors: 'School's Out' will be screened at the Soho Hotel, (off Dean St), London at 6 pm on Wednesday 14th Sep 2005. Private school proprietors from sub-Saharan Africa, India and China will be available for interview.

Newcastle University

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.