Table of Contents

  • The non-state sector is playing an increasing role in the delivery of education in a number of developing countries that are still striving to attain Education for All (EFA) and the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ‘Non-state’ is a term that presents its own problems of clear definition and focus. Broadly, it can be used to describe formal institutions independent of government administration, including philanthropically subsidised and faith-based schools, education delivered by not-for-profit non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community schools, and feepaying private institutions. In many instances the latter classification is used interchangeably with the term non-state, especially as the recent growth in developing countries is happening amongst private providers. But the distinction between the different sectors is important as the dynamics of each have an impact on factors relating to access and quality issues, among others.

  • In recent years, countries around the developing world have introduced universal primary education programmes in an attempt to meet the Millennium Development Goal on education by 2015. This has involved intense expansion of government education systems. One consequence of these programmes has been a dramatic growth in the size of the private education sector and in particular, the emergence of a private education institution that charges a fee that is low enough to be affordable by poor families. These institutions are increasingly being seen as a popular alternative to the public education system. This book aims to investigate this low-cost private education sector and its impact on the goal of achieving universal primary education in India, Nigeria and Uganda.

  • The objective of this book is to investigate the impact of low-cost private sector education on achieving universal primary education in three Commonwealth countries: India, Nigeria and Uganda. The three countries have been chosen because they are reported to have seen high growth of low-cost private education in recent years, running in parallel with publicly-funded efforts to achieve universal primary education.

  • Low-cost private schools represent a sub-sector in the shadows. An often uncomfortable relationship with the authorities means that many schools operate without registration and fail to report their data.

  • As commercial institutions that derive profit from providing education to a non-elite clientele, private schools have a history of more than two decades in India. In the 1970s, fees were abolished in government schools and public funding extended to a section of private schools, which came to be known as ‘aided’ schools. ‘Unaided’ private schools raise their own revenues through fees and fall in two categories – recognised (or complying with a number of conditions) and unrecognised. Recognition entitles schools to issue terminal grade completion certificates and certain government provisions, including scholarships.

  • In Nigeria, schools are generally categorised as either government or private schools. From interaction with officials of the federal and state ministries of education, local government education secretaries and proprietors of private schools during fieldwork in the sampled states, the defining characteristics of private schools are...

  • With the introduction of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme in 1997, primary school enrolment in Uganda increased from 2.9 million (m) in 1996 to 7.3m in 2003. About 50 per cent of the lowest economic quartile was enrolled in 1992, while by 1999, 83.7 per cent of children of school-going age were enrolled. It is asserted that the majority of the 23 per cent of the Ugandan population benefiting from primary education are from the lowest income quartile. The 2001 Uganda Demographic Household Survey (UDHS) indicated that 24 per cent of children were out of school because of monetary cost. Public intervention was thus said to raise access and equity. In addition, the UPE policy of enrolling all children of school-going age had the effect of increasing girls’ enrolment to about 50 per cent of total enrolment, thus significantly reducing the gender-parity gap.1 However, the contribution of private sector education provisions in increasing access, although acknowledged, is not fully known.