Is Private Education Good for the Poor?

Many believe that the private sector has very little to offer in terms of reaching the
Millennium Development Goal of ‘education for all’ by 2015. Private education is often assumed to be concerned only with serving the elite or middle classes, not the poor. And unregistered or unrecognised private schools are thought to be of the lowest quality and hence demanding of detailed regulation, or even closure, by the authorities. Our findings from a two-year in-depth study in Hyderabad, India; Ga District, Ghana; Lagos State, Nigeria; and Nairobi, Kenya, suggest that these conclusions are unwarranted. Private unaided schools, we argue, can play – indeed, already are playing – an important, if unsung role in reaching the poor and satisfying their educational needs.


Through this research, we have obtained an understanding of the nature and extent of private unaided schools serving low-income families in different African and Indian settings. In each we can say that the majority of poor school children attend private unaided schools, which generally perform better than government schools, at between half and a quarter of the cost. The schools are largely run by proprietors, with very few receiving outside philanthropic support, and none receiving state funding. Roughly equal numbers of boys and girls attend private unaided schools, which have better pupil-teacher ratios, higher teacher commitment and sometimes better facilities than government schools. Teachers are not less satisfied with their
salaries in private unaided than government schools, even though they are paid considerably less. Finally, a significant minority of all places in private unaided schools are provided free or at reduced rates, to serve the poorest of the poor.

Links para o estudo: executive summary e full report (pdf).

Leitura recomendada: "Government Failure: E. G. West on Education" (pdf)