Book Forum

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey Into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves

Date and Time
April 15, 2009 12 - 1:30 PM EDT
Featuring the author, James Tooley, award‐​winning scholar who lives in Hyderabad, India, where he works with those who inspired this book; Reshma Lohia, who runs the private school, Lohia’s Little Angels, serving 500 poor students in India; and Andrew J. Coulson, Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.

“A moving account of how poor parents struggle against great odds to provide a rich educational experience to their children.” –Publishers Weekly

Everyone from Bono to the United Nations is looking for a miracle to bring schooling within reach of the poorest children on Earth. James Tooley may have found one. While researching private schools in India for the World Bank, and worried he was doing little to help the poor, Tooley wandered into the slums of Hyderabad’s Old City. Shocked to find it overflowing with small, parent‐​funded schools filled with energized students, he set out to discover if the small, parent‐​funded schools could help achieve universal education.

So began the adventure told in Tooley’s new book, The Beautiful Tree — the story of his journey from the largest shanty town in Africa to the mountains of Gansu, China, and of the children, parents, teachers, and entrepreneurs who taught him that the poor are not waiting for educational handouts. They are building their own schools and educating themselves.

Named after Mahatma Gandhi’s phrase for the schools of pre‐​colonial India, The Beautiful Tree is not another book lamenting what has gone wrong in the Third World. It is a book about what is going right, illustrating that even the most disadvantaged parents in the poorest corners of the globe have the power to create tremendous educational experiences for their children.

We hope you will be able to join us and hear first‐​hand not just what Americans can do to help education in poor countries, but what we can learn from these education entrepreneurs who are succeeding under the most challenging conditions imaginable.