Why the poor pay for ‘black-market schools’

Across India, China and Africa, desperately poor parents scrimp to send their children to low-cost private schools, writes James Tooley in his new book, The Beautiful Tree.

Poor parents choose private schools, often with primitive facilities and large classes, because they see their children learning more, Tooley found.

A (Kenyan) father told us: “While most of the teachers in government school are just resting and doing their own things, in private school our teachers are very much busy doing their best, because they know we pay them by ourselves. If they don’t do well they can get the message from the headmistress, of which we cannot allow because we produce ourselves the money, we get it through our own sweat, we cannot allow to throw it away, because you can’t even take the money from the trees, you have to work harder to find it so the teacher must also work harder on our children so that he earns his own living.”

Another father said: “If you go to a market and are offered free fruit and vegetables, they will be rotten. If you want fresh fruit and vegetables, you have to pay for them.”