In the developing world, one primary school looks like any other primary school. Although the children and teachers might speak different languages, the desks are always in military rows, the Oxford University Press textbooks are always torn, and the teachers always write in chalk and chant ABCs that the children always parrot. The exception, of course, is when children have no desks at all.
It becomes almost routine to visit, wait to be served tea or coffee with biscuits, listen to principals complain in great depth about the lack of funding and government corruption, and nod sympathetically. Colonial heritage is often evident in the out-of-place uniforms and the confusing use of several language mediums.
Population growth in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa mean that more of these startlingly similar primary schools pop up in different guises: government schools, low fee private schools and tuition centers. All generally share the common denominator of being low quality, despite the recent expansion in public-private partnerships and the opening of mid-range private schools.
Image: BANGLADESH © TEACH ELUN.