Low Cost Private Schools: ‘Helping’ to Reach Education for All Through Exploiting Women
Keywords:Exploitation of young women teachers; India and Pakistan; sustainability of low-fee model
AbstractThe rapid growth of Low Cost Private Schools (LCPS) in developing countries has led to increasing interest in the model’s ‘sustainability’. Nearly all the literature is based on the proponents’ claims that the model is more cost-effective than government schools rather than of the implications of the model depending to a large extent on very low paid young women teachers.The article is written against the backdrop of the model of an autonomous, respected, well-prepared teacher and framed in terms of human rights and gender (dis-)empowerment. Drawing on material on literature mainly from India and Pakistan, it documents the educational levels and employment opportunities for women; reviews the arguments for and against the model pointing out the lack of attention to the high rates of profit and the plight of teachers; and demonstrates that the (mostly young women) teachers are not only very low paid but are also poorly qualified with very precarious conditions of employment. Simply put, paying women teachers less than the minimum wage denies their human rights, further disempowering those who are already socially marginalized and excluded. This is not sustainable for gender equality in the long term and, finally, detrimental to education in developing societies as a whole.