A Cameroon education


On 3rd October David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph that a Conservative government will "smash open the state education monopoly so that any qualified organisation can set up a new state schoo".

What sort of organisations will be able to qualify? Well, according to the Conservatives' two years old policy document, "The country which provides the closest model for what we wish to do is Sweden".

A major feature of the Swedish system is that profit-seeking enterprises, including PLCs, qualify. Indeed three-quarters of the new schools in the Swedish model are profit-seeking. Furthermore, an impeccable source wrote, in a recent article for the Spectator and the Daily Telegraph that "the Swedish model would not exist without the acceptance of profit-making organisations". Yet it has long been clear that Cameroons have no intention whatsoever of permitting such enterprises to "qualify". After all, that would be private enterprise; strictly passé for the Cameroons.

Or would it? During the conference week, part of the pro-Tory press was willing itself to believe otherwise. Thus on 8th October the Spectator editorial said “Crucially, it now looks likely that the new schools will be able to be run for profit" while in its Coffee House, Fraser Nelson wrote “Michael Gove’s new Swedish schools will, it seems, be allowed to make a profit".

This blog is some 3 weeks late while I have searched vainly for support of these notions.

I could be wrong, but if I am right, the Cameroons are guilty of serious misrepresentation of the "Swedish model". The same goes for another of their favourites – "the post-bureaucratic age" (largely via the internet and the information revolution). But the word "bureaucratic" refers to management in government and the public sector. The post-bureaucratic age is not a result of the internet as Dave the Vague likes to claim. It is the result of Adam Smith’s "invisible hand" – the most powerful information system the world has ever seen – bar none, whilst the internet is a mere side-show which enhances whatever market signals are allowed by the bureaucrats.

To reduce bureaucracy the Cameroons must slash taxes and allow private enterprise to flourish, rather than continue to tax us all and dish the funds out again to a few favoured voluntary groups. A good start would be to allow any entity, especially a profit-seeking institution, to create a school and charge fees directly, with a full tax rebate to those who thus reduce the cost of state education by moving their children out of it altogether. Don’t hold your breath.