- The World Bank has today announced it was doubling its education financing this year in low- and middle-income countries to $4.09 billion to help poor countries battle threats to their education systems during the global economic crisis.
The announcement came as the Bank released a new report that describes how developing countries are increasingly using private education organizations - such as faith-based organisations, local communities, NGOs, private for-profit institutions, and not-for profit schools - to help deliver education services.
According to the new report - The Role and Impact of Public-Private Partnerships in Education - these public-private partnerships (PPPs) are being used progressively more to boost education access, equity, and student learning.
“Governments in both developed and developing countries are seeking to leverage the capacity and expertise of the private sector in education and forge these public/private partnerships that make education spending go further, especially during these times of economic crisis,” says Beth King, the World Bank’s Director for Education. “In some OECD countries, more than 20 percent of public expenditures are now being transferred to private education institutions, while a number of developing countries also subsidize private schools via teacher salaries and textbooks or per-pupil grants.”
The World Bank Director for Education said said that in certain countries in Africa and South Asia, where education demand is high but public funds are limited, private, low-cost secondary schools are growing in number.
The new report specifically examines those public-private partnerships in which developing country governments drive national education policy and provide the subsequent financing, while turning to private sector organisations to deliver education services under contract. Such contracts typically specify the quantity and quality of education services to be delivered, establish an agreed price and term, and feature both performance rewards and non-performance sanctions, the report states.
There is growing evidence to suggest that contracting the private sector to deliver education has benefits, including greater efficiency, increased choice, and wider access. The latter finding particularly holds for households that have been poorly served by traditional delivery mechanisms. According to the report co-author, Harry Patrinos, “In general, private management of public schools can be efficient and can yield improved academic performance. Despite being controversial, vouchers have also been found to improve academic outcomes, especially for the poor.”
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