Is for-profit online learning the answer for developing countries?

Tony Bates, eLearning, distance education resources, Apr 11, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Response to a recent post from John Daniel advocating for-profit online learning in developing countries. The ostensible reason for such a proposal, of course, is that developing countries don't have the resources to support public infrastructure such as higher education (or water systems) and so the people living in those countries should pay for them directly. Tony Bates supports the proposal, but adds two caveats:
- the primary goal should be to develop a high quality public education system that is open to all, irrespective of income, race or caste.
- US-based for-profit organizations continue to struggle exporting their model to other countries.
Personally, I think that if a country can't support an educational system through taxation, then it's certainly not going to be able to support it through privatization. The very best outcome would be that the system becomes available to the rich, while the poor are left out to dry. Making something for-profit does not magically make the impossible possible. Usually, it makes it a lot more difficult.
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