“Be bold,” says James Tooley when you want education reform. He’d know. For the last decade the Newcastle University Professor has been traveling throughout the world’s poorest regions studying systems of education. What he’s discovered may be surprising.

In the poorest countries on earth, parents are choosing private schools because they don’t want to acquiesce to the mediocrity of public schools…Our research has shown that these schools are outperforming the government schools at a fraction of the cost.

The founder of the Beautiful Tree Foundation, a group dedicated to researching and developing high quality, low cost education to the poor, James Tooley has discovered some strange truths about the nature of fee-based education that has far-reaching implications for other issues.

A lot of these poor people tell us they don’t want free education. They want to pay fees. Why do they to pay fees? Because that means the schools are accountable to them and that means they are, in some ways, empowered and in charge.

A more succinct answer as to why the freedom to choose enables great things in education in any society would be hard to come by.