James Tooley is Professor of Educational Entrepreneurship and Policy at the University of Buckinghamshire. His research work and other activities mostly focus on low-cost private schools, which he has come to see as one of the most powerful contributors to making high-quality education accessible to the poor in developing countries. In this conversation, we discuss how such schools work, why they are often overlooked in the development discourse, and how they can make a contribution. We also briefly explore James' general beliefs regarding the value of private schools that are independent of the state, and his attempts to make private education more accessible in the UK.

As always, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions for guests, I'd be happy to hear from you. Email me at [email protected]

Further reading

If you want to learn more about James' work and research, I would suggest starting with his engaging book The Beautiful Tree in which he shares his journey and his key lessons learned.

If you want to look further at the research, James suggested the following articles:

- Tooley & Longfield (2016) Affordability of private schools: exploration of a conundrum and towards a definition of ‘low-cost’

- Muralidharan & Sundararaman (2015) report on the Andra Pradesh voucher experiment (https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/130/3/1011/1931887) and James Tooley's alternative interpretation of the results that suggests that low-cost private schools perform better than reported initially

- Kremer et al (2005) on the shockingly high rates of teacher absenteeism in Indian government schools

If you are interested in the realities of James' work in India, "Imprisoned in India"[https://www.amazon.co.uk/Imprisoned-India-Corruption-Extortion-Democracy/dp/178590101X] is also worth reading. The book tells the story of this imprisonment in Hyderabad after he had angered authorities with his work on the failings of state education and the presence of corruption and highlights the value of the rule of law we often take for granted.

Theme music from https://filmmusic.io: "Zigzag" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) Licence: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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