Private, Low-Cost, High-Quality Schools in High Demand in Poorest Places on Earth: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
April 12, 2021

Private, Low-Cost, High-Quality Schools in High Demand in Poorest Places on Earth
Author says such schools would thrive in US as well

Oakland, CA—Almost overnight a virus has brought into question America’s nearly 200-year-old government-run K-12 school-system—and prompted an urgent search for alternatives. But where should we turn to find them?

Enter James Tooley’s Really Good Schools: Global Lessons for High-Caliber, Low-Cost Educationan exciting new book published today by the Independent Institute (Oakland, CA).

A distinguished scholar of education and the world’s foremost expert on private, low-cost innovative education, Tooley takes readers to some of the world’s most impoverished communities located in some of the world’s most dangerous places—including such war-torn countries as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and South Sudan. And there, in places where education “experts” fear to tread, Tooley finds thriving private schools that government, multinational NGOs, and even international charity officials deny exist.


Because the very existence of low-cost, high-quality private schools shatters the prevailing myth in the U.S., U.K., and western Europe that, absent government, affordable, high-quality schools for the poor could not exist.

But they do. And they are ubiquitous and in high demand. Founded by unheralded, local educational entrepreneurs, these schools are proving that self-organized education is not just possible but flourishing—often enrolling far more students than “free” government schools do at tiny prices within reach of even the most impoverished families.

In the course of his analysis Tooley asks—and answers—the key questions: What proportion of poor children is served? (High.) How good are the private schools? (Excellent.) What are the business models for these schools? (Innovative.) And can they be replicated and improved? (Yes!)

The pandemic has taught parents in America and Europe that the education of their children without government meddling is indeed possible—and likely far better. And having experienced these first fruits of educational freedom, parents are increasingly open to ever greater educational entrepreneurship. Thankfully, parents, educators and policymakers now have Really Good Schools to show the way.

CREDENTIALS: Dr. James Tooley is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and Vice Chancellor (President) of the University of Buckingham in England, where he also serves as Professor of Educational Entrepreneurship and Policy. He is the also author of the award-winning book, The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest Are Educating Themselves building on his ground-breaking research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa.

To interview Dr. Tooley, please contact Robert Ade, [email protected], 510-635-3690.


The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit

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