Costs and benefits

Howdy, partner

Private education can complement the public sort

Better than nothing

“WE WANTED TO pop champagne when they said they were opening Spark Soweto,” said Ntebogeleng Malevu. Before the new branch of a fast-growing chain of low-cost South African schools opened in the township on the outskirts of Johannesburg in January, Ms Malevu, a nurse, would wake her six-year-old daughter Qhawe at 4am to travel to another Spark school in the city’s northern suburbs. The transport cost nearly as much as the tuition (2,310 rand, or $158, a month for primary-school pupils).

Parents prefer private schools. A global survey in 2017 found that they were a lot more likely to give the teaching at their children’s school a positive rating if it was private than if it was public; parents in Chile have voted with their children’s feet in favour of the private sector.

Governments are often less keen on private education. Some of the reasons for their hostility are bad ones: a reluctance to cede power, the opportunity for patronage, the influence…