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Those familiar with the debate in the developed world about the virtues of private versus public education will not be surprised to find the same arguments raging when it comes to providing education to some of the poorest children in the world. On the one hand, there is the principle enshrined in public schools of providing universal access to the same quality of education. On the other, there are private schools that offer quick fixes to the endemic failures of the public system. They go by a variety of names in the West—charter schools in the United States, Free Schools in Sweden—but they aim to leverage private money, whether in fees or in contributions from business, to give children a good education sooner rather than later.
In the developing world, some of the...
A quiet but radical transformation is changing student loan systems. Traditionally, loans made to borrowers deemed dependable are paid back at a set, prearranged time and amount. However, in recent decades, a different instrument, known as an income-contingent loan (ICL), has emerged as a major player in enabling students to receive and pay back loans. ICL are now in use across the world, with the United States Congress considering adopting them.
The subject of this essay is those loans: what they are, where they come from, their benefits and costs, and why such an instrument might be of considerable interest in an understanding of the role of government in ensuring residents have access to financial mechanisms.
ICL are unique in that they are paid back only if...