The August 1st cover story of The Economist was titled “Learning Unleashed: Private education in poor countries takes off” and addressed the issue of poor-quality public school education and the rising trend of private sector educational solutions in the developing world. This has been Edify’s core belief that has motivated us into action.
When Edify launched its operations in 2009, the concept of low-fee, independent (private) schools as a viable alternative to low-quality or non-existent government schools was unknown to many. As we’ve expanded from two to eight countries since then, it’s been incredibly exciting to see the breadth and depth of knowledge about private education expand as well.
For some, the findings in The Economist were eye-opening. Statements such as, “Given the choice between a free state school where little teaching happens and a private school where their children might actually learn something, parents who can scrape together the fees will plump for the latter,” often surprise those of us who have envision private schools to be a luxury reserved for the elite.
However, the private schools that The Economist refers to and that Edify partners with not only provide schooling at prices that many poor parents can afford (an average of $1/day), they are managed to be financially self-sustainable. In fact, many provide scholarships for orphans and students whose parents can’t afford the fees.
The Economist goes on to note that state schools in developing countries don’t have adequate resources to educate their children and are “often plagued by teacher strikes and absenteeism.” This global education crisis affects millions of children in the developing world and has devastating results. According to the Brookings Institute, as many as 250 million children cannot read, write, or do basic math, despite having spent several years in school.
However, there is hope. The Economist states that the fastest growing group of the 1 million private schools in the developing world are the “small, low-cost schools run by entrepreneurs in poor areas…”
Since our first loan in 2010, Edify has lent to 1,124 of these low-cost schools, impacting the 323,100 children enrolled in Africa and Latin America with a quality Christ-centered education. Edify has deployed $6.4 million in loan capital to the field, but with the recycling of loan repayments after repayment, we have been able to disburse a total of $11.8 million in total loans to schools!
As our understanding of private sector solutions to the global education crisis grows, Edify is committed to improving the ways in which we seek to serve educational entrepreneurs and increase access to Christ-centered education in the developing world.
Will you join us in supporting these amazing low-cost schools? Here are some ways you can get involved within the next 5 minutes:
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