18 April, 2021

Homemade Alphabet Tree

They face state wrath, but private unaided schools provide quality education to many poor children

Jitender Gupta
Homemade Alphabet Tree

When I first met James Tooley at a seminar on a cold morning in Delhi, I was drawn to him by his sincerity, his passion, and most of all by his infectious smile, which made everyone in the room smile back at him. As I watched him I thought of Tagore’s observation in the Stray Birds about how much the world loves a man when he smiles.

Tooley’s remarkable book tells of his  discovery that in the slums of India, in remote villages of China, and in Africa’s shantytowns, the world’s poorest people are creating their own schools to give their children a better future. In a journey which began in the slums of Hyderabad, Tooley finds out how committed entrepreneurs and teachers in poor communities have started private schools with very low fees (Rs 70-170 per month). These are affordable for the children of rikshawallas and daily labourers. He concludes that 65 per cent of schoolchildren in Hyderabad’s slums are in private unaided schools. In India there are thousands of such schools which are run by...

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