Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Schooling & The State

The Economist has come up with an interesting article this week, supporting the use of vouchers for improving parental choice for better school education.

"Few ideas in education are more controversial than vouchers—letting parents choose to educate their children wherever they wish at the taxpayer's expense. First suggested by Milton Friedman, an economist, in 1955, the principle is compellingly simple. The state pays; parents choose; schools compete; standards rise; everybody gains."

Despite opoostion from the educational establishment there is increasing evidence to show that it works. Columbia is distributing the vouchers through a lottery system while in Sweden, the government pays the parents for educating their children wherever they choose. Both methods have shown a significant improvement in quality and access to education but has also proved that "those who work in state schools are just like everybody else: they do better when confronted by a bit of competition."

It makes you wonder about school education in India…about the controls imposed by a paranoid bureaucracy and rent-seeking politicians; about state schools that exist only on the bureaucrat’s files; classrooms without teachers and children without books.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ludger Kuhnhardt

Tehelka 28 April 2007
Ludger Kuhnhardt - German Economist and India-tracker Professor

"The key to China's success is that Euro 600 billion worth of investment has been made there. This has been the biggest peaceful re-allocation of financial resources in world history. This has happened because investors felt that the Chinese would be able to accommodate to the rules of global corporate business. India has some distance to catch up."

"...broad-based manufacturing is the only way to get jobs, which will be able to generate purchasing power in the hands of the poor... it creates and nurtures a middle class."

"There are so many ground realities in India.The key is not to confine yourself to populist demands. There is a gap between those who speak for the masses and those who are the masses. Populism and radicalism are a danger in every democracy... In terms of diversity, India is comparable to the EU...this produces friction and lack of efficiency, and often very contradictory processes of decision making or revision of former decisions..."

"...during the last 300 years India and China have ended up with a lot of poverty. The two biggest countries in Asia used to run run 50% of world trade between 1500-1800, which went down to 5% as a consequence of colonization and semi-colonization. Both are now making a comeback and have cornered 15-16% of world GDP together. This trend will continue..."

On WTO & Poverty - "You cannot just push poverty aside, blame others and be insensitive if anybody addresses the issue. In the past, Indian elites either tried to shy away from the issue or denied it, attacking the west for its mistakes, instead of turning poverty into an opportunity for the country. You have to develop people instead of throwing them aside or putting them under a cloud. The same mechanism applies to India's relationship with the WTO. It is one thing to influence the WTO, or to help manage it and another thing to just blame it. You must empower the poor by giving them purchasing power, which means giving them jobs...I think the right way to deal with globalization is not consider it as a UFO from Mars, but seeing it as a technological, instrumental, functional basis of our living together."