This report provides an analysis of support to private sector engagement in Global Partnership for Education (GPE) recipient countries, building off a prior study focusing on GPE decision-making on private schooling. This review includes an analysis of 101 documents relating to the 40 GPE recipient partner countries with active Education Sector Program Implementation Grants (ESPIGs). Country profiles of Haiti, Pakistan, and Uganda are provided in an Appendix, each of which highlights important trends with implications for GPE support to private participation in education.
The report contextualizes private engagement in education from a human rights perspective. Based on a descriptive analysis of Education Sector Plans (ESPs) and ESPIG project documents, it finds that GPE projects include far less private sector engagement in education than do country-designed ESPs. The report also gives a brief account of GRA grants and the single GRA project that engages the private sector.
Summary reflections on private sector engagement in GPE recipient countries note trends and areas for further investigation including issues concerning the ambiguous descriptions of private schools within the documents; the range of rationales provided for support to private schools; tax/fiscal incentives for private engagement; PPPs in early childhood education; private participation in policy-making; the role of the private sector as an education funder; and the widely agreed-upon need for regulation of private schools.
The analysis concludes that while a notable presence and expansion of private participation in GPE recipient countries is clear, this engagement cannot be attributed directly to GPE. In fact, the discrepancy between private school support in ESPs and ESPIGs reflects a GPE prioritization of public education. Yet some significant tensions emerge between GPE’s commitment to the right to education and particular forms of private participation as identified in the project documents and ESPs.
The Global Partnership for Education treads a fine line relating to private engagement in education, navigating its dual mandate to both support education as a human right and a public good, while simultaneously promoting country ownership and nationally identified priorities. And so while GPE is in a position to maintain its course in predominantly supporting public education, this current stance may come in tension with the goals of recipient governments and other stakeholders within countries.