‘This study is about the impacts of strategic litigation on equal access to quality education in Brazil, India, and South Africa. It is intended to look beyond strategic litigation solely as a means to ensure equal access to education, and to examine the use and effectiveness of strategic litigation in advancing education quality once access is won. This study is the second in a series of four thematic studies undertaken by the Open Society Justice Initiative and independent experts in 2014-2016 to interrogate the impacts of strategic litigation as a catalyst for social change.’

In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones. However, shortcomings in public education often arise not from lack of capacity, but lack of political will.

This review of examples of public education in low- and middle-income countries shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated (and empirically unvalidated) ideas, public education can be highly effective, efficient and transformative and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere.