Increasing the private sector’s role in education may have several potential advantages over traditional public delivery of education. Whether these benefits are actually realized depends greatly on how well designed the partnership between the public and private sector is, on the regulatory framework of the country, and on the capacity of the government to oversee and enforce its contracts and partnerships with the private sector. When implemented correctly, the private sector can increase efficiency and choice, and expand access to education services, particularly for households that tend to be poorly served by traditional delivery methods. Currently, private for-profit schools across the world are serving a full range of communities – from elite families through middle-income families to the poor. Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) also allow governments to take advantage of the specialized skills offered by certain private organizations and to overcome operating restrictions such as inflexible salary scales and work rules that may prevail in the public sector.
Chapter 1. Understanding Public-Private Partnerships in Education
The main rationale for developing public-private partnerships (PPPs) in education is to maximize the potential for expanding equitable access to schooling and for improving education outcomes, especially for marginalized groups. In this chapter, we show how different types of contracts can help to meet these two objectives in different socioeconomic and political contexts. Specifically, we examine how contracts are used to hold all partners accountable and how contracts are designed to produce measurable improvements in education outcomes or performance. The analysis considers contracting as a distinct instrument from any other education accountability mechanisms.
While governments remain the main financiers of primary and secondary education, a substantial share of education worldwide is now delivered by private agents. To increase access and improve quality in education, many governments are finding effective to separate the financing of education from its provision. In the most common type of PPP, governments fund existing private schools; in more recent types, governments have contracted with private providers to generate alternatives to traditional forms of public education. The expansion of private participation in the education systems of both developed and developing countries is increasingly turning them into markets with the potential to increase quality and efficiency. In the following chapter, we discuss examples of public-private partnerships across the world and describe the PPP continuum that depicts the main forms of publicly funded and privately provided education as a tool to help countries identify the appropriate level of engagement with the private sector.
Chapter 3. What do we Know About Public-Private Partnerships in Education?
This chapter presents the results of the few rigorous empirical studies of public-private partnerships in education in the light of four main objectives – increasing enrollment, improving education outcomes, reducing costs, and reducing inequality. The different ways in which the different types of PPPs can affect education outcomes are briefly discussed. It presents empirical evidence of the impact of PPPs along two dimensions: first, by the type of empirical strategy used to tackle the problem of endogeneity, and second, by the type of contract involved in the PPP. Our analysis is limited to those evaluation studies that address self-selection. Some of the evidence of public provision of private services on education outcomes so far is positive but is not enough to justify either ignoring PPPs or expanding them on a large scale.
Chapter 4. Designing a Conducive Environment for Education Contracting
For public-private partnerships to live up to their potential of bringing many benefits to the education sector, they must be well designed. Poorly designed PPPs can expose governments to significant financial and policy risks such as cost increases and unmet objectives. Governments can do several things to create an environment that is conducive to the establishment of well-designed and successful PPPs in education. This chapter provides guidance on how to ensure the success of PPPs by putting in place an enabling policy and regulatory framework that creates the conditions under which private schools can operate effectively and efficiently. This framework should also ensure that the sector as a whole delivers high-quality education and that the wider public interest is protected.
The concept of a public-private partnership (PPP) recognizes the existence of alternative options for providing education services besides public finance and public delivery. Governments around the world are exploring different ways to involve the private sector in providing education. Contracting out educational services is controversial. One criticism that is often made of PPPs is that these initiatives lead to the privatization of education and thus will reduce the government’s control over a public service. Another fear expressed is that increasing the educational choices available to students and their families may increase socioeconomic segregation if better prepared students end up self-selecting into high-quality schools further improving their outcomes. A third concern is centered on the poorer students that are left behind in the deteriorating public schools that loose the support and pressure from more educated parents to improve quality. Thus, PPPs may face resistance from certain stakeholders and policymakers need to take these points of view into account when designing their contracting initiatives. Some of the evidence of public provision of private services on education outcomes so far is positive but is not enough to justify either ignoring PPPs or expanding them on a large scale. The small number of studies that have been carried out so far suggest that contracting out to the private sector can have several benefits, including greater efficiency, increased choice, and wider access to education, particularly for those households who have been poorly served by traditional methods of providing education.