Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hidden Flaws in China and India Schools

From Jay Matthews in the Washington Post:


Sadly, even in the days when The Washington Post was flush with cash, there was no money to send the education columnist abroad. But I am happy to report I don't have to go because an upcoming book from education scholar James Tooley goes much deeper into the Chinese and Indian school systems than Bob or I ever have, and takes my side. Tooley shows that India and China, despite their economic successes, have public education systems that are, in many ways, a sham.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold my breath - Tooley is at University of Newcastle, think of that other noted "scholar" -

authored books include

The Miseducation of Women

Sudhakar Kudva said...

Bob and Jay have butted heads before. But neither of them, and our friend Tooley, attended an Indian school through grade 12. I have. I also have all of my siblings and nieces attend Indian schools. To top it off, I am writing this comment from Bangalore.

Those who write about India, make movies about India, and talk about India are analogous to the five blind men in the old story "Five Blind Men and the Elephant". Even those who have spent their lifetimes cannot fathom its complexity, let alone those who just visit once in a while.

My take on Jay's story is that he is calling the glass half empty, and Bob is calling the glass half full. However, I give Bob the edge because he hires people, Jay just reports on them. When an employer interviews me and turns me down because I am deficient in some way, I have to listen. And it is not about cost any more. Good technocrats earn similar amount no matter where they live.

Another part about Jay's story that misses the point is that most Indians have figured out that public schools don't work. Half of them go to private or semi private schools. Public schools have become a safety net for those who cannot afford the better schools. This is a problem for the Indian state governments to solve. It is the other half that is getting a great education that is producing world class graduates, at the rate of about 10 million per year, more than twice the total number of kids graduating high school. When our kids graduate, they have to compete with the top half of the graduating class, not the bottom half. Statistics say that 88% of all the students in the US are attend public schools.

Another place to look at is history. Japan, South Korea, and Germany, much smaller countries than the US, used their education systems to create a world class auto industry, almost wiping out ours. Same goes for Taiwan with computers. But now all of a sudden, there is a workforce that is several times larger than that of the US coming out of China and India. Whether they are getting their education from public or private schools, they are beating us to the livelihoods of the future.

We have bet our future on our public education system. India has not. That, in my opinion, is the most important point Jay is missing.