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Submitted by Mohga Kamal-Yanni on

Why should we privatise education?

There are several important reasons to make education private and for the state to wash its hands from providing education. The author referred to some but let me make a quick shortlist:
1. Teachers in public schools are lazy and have high level of absenteeism. Some people may say that teachers behave in that way because they have low salaries, inadequate training and no motivation or career prospects. But really, why do they want money and career? They better look for private schools or just serve their communities for free. Let’s not bother about reasons for bad teaching that require massive reforms in the educational systems including decent public financing. Let’s blame teachers for the failure of the system
2. Parents- even poor people have a say in the private schools. Really? My experience is that parents pay but have no say in how the school is run. Oh yes they can change schools and thus force quality. Well! this may be the case for upper class people choosing between top 5 stars schools. Poor and even middle class do not have this choice simply because all the schools they can afford are of similar quality
3. Take Egypt as an example of people going for private education. The writer says that people chose to go to private teachers because of the bad state schools. Actually the norm is that kids in both state and private schools take private lessons. The only difference is that kids are free not to attend private schools every day, sometimes even in for a month or a whole year! This is not a joke. I personally know non-rich kids whose parents pay the fees of the private school and even the fees for the bus, but miss the whole year of their A level so that they can spend their day going for private lessons. In Egypt, the cost of health and education are a huge burden on parents who would take on more jobs, borrow money and live in debt to afford education.
4. Quality of private schools is better than public schools: unfortunately the evidence works against that. The majority of the top performers in Egypt’ A level this year and I dare say every year come from state schools. Two of my young friends are studying to be pharmacists; one in a state university and the other in a private university (she didn’t have high marks in her A level to join the state university and was lucky to have a relative abroad who was pays for her education). The girls agree that the state university teaches wider range of subjects and require higher standards of achievement in exams. In the private university, they study less subjects and it is easy to attain high marks. Obviously the private university want to attract more students every year by making their results more glamorous.
5. Education is a private good? Does that mean that it is OK if 90% of society decided not to send their kids to school, or just be satisfied with their kids able to read and write? Can somebody explain to me how the society will get its future doctors, engineers, IT people, scientists, managers, entrepreneurs, planners, ministers?

Thanks to my government’ commitment to free public education, my poor family was able to send me not only to primary but up to tertiary education, and now I can write to defend the right of all kids for free, high-quality education.