Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What is poor?

I'm reading a book "The Beautiful Tree" about private schools for the poor in Africa and India. I've gotten to a part where logic is tested. There are people telling the author that there cannot be private schools for the poor because the poor are too poor to pay, thus there cannot be schools where the poor are paying to send their children. When the author found schools where the poor were paying to send their children to school, then the nay sayers said those people aren't poor. Never mind that they have no electricity, running water, work as fishermen, live in one room shacks with tin roofs, and make about $1 a day. No, if they are paying for schooling, they aren't poor.
There is more I'd like to write, but I am not done with the book. But there is a attitude that I am disliking, and it is the author's bias, but development people seem to fail to acknowledge that the poor have agency. Yes, the poor make bad decisions, but it's their decision. Another thing, I'm also sensing international poverty pimping. Send millions of dollars to support middle and upper class bureaucrats to make reports and studies about the poor and call it helping the poor, though the poor see a little of the results, and get little ownership of the process or the results. How many abandoned clean water projects dot the world?

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