[...] In slums and villages that I have visited in Africa and India, parents are appalled that teachers often don’t turn up and, if they do, often don’t teach. Their children tell them of sleeping teachers and parents see that exercise books are rarely marked.
[...] Last week I was in a deprived fishing village in Ghana that boasts six flourishing private schools only yards from the state school. A fisherman with an understanding of economics that would put union officials to shame, who had moved his daughter from state to private school, told me that the private school proprietor needed to satisfy parents like him, otherwise he would go out of business. “That’s why the teachers turn up and teach,” he told me, “because they are closely supervised.” His wife, busy smoking fish for sale in the market, concurred. “In the state school, our daughter learnt nothing. Now she’s back on track.”