If you ever wanted to see how the pieces of the privatization movement in ed reform fir together (though nobody really wants to see that any more than they want to get a close look at road kill or watch video of an operation on their own pancreas), then I have the article for you.
The Nation has a new piece by George Joseph looking at the spread of the spread of Teach for America's operating philosophy into India. This is apparently a different group than Teach for All, Teach for America's own multinational brand. But the founder of TFI met with Wendy Kopp and McKinsey consulting, so it's not exactly a completely independent entity, either.
India's education system is one of the most grossly underfunded systems in the world. Even though they are booming economically, Joseph reports that the most they have ever spent on education is just 4.4% of their GDP (and that peak came sixteen years ago). In 2013-2014, the country had over half a million vacant teaching positions. Only one in five teachers working had ever received in-service training. Half of all schools could not meet the requirement of no more than thirty students to a classroom. And over 91,000 schools had only one teacher.
But TFI features the same old TFA theory of change, which Joseph has summed up as clearly as anyone I've ever read:
By promising innovative classroom techniques and inspirational leadership, the Teach for All model seeks to transform tremendous material deficits into a problem of character.
His article repeatedly cites individuals who say that India's schools do not need more money, but basically just need somebody smart to whip these kids into shape. Meanwhile, the TFI board includes guys like Ashish Dhawan, an exceptionally wealthy guy who has thrown his money and power behind successful efforts to have public schools simply turned over to private businesses to operate (and profit from).
Against that background of spreading privatization of education, TFI is very clearly not meant to provide students with an education, but instead is to provide field training for the people who are going to become the movers and shakers and money-makers in the new privatized education business. Though Joseph does not say so, one gets the impression that India's reformsters feel far less pressure to pay lip service to the idea that this is all For the Poor Children.
It's a fascinating look at what the Same Old Reformy Stuff looks like when played out in another culture and country. Follow the link above and read this.