29 September 2021

Right to Education Initiative, together with members of the Privatisation in Education and Human Rights Consortium (PEHRC) working group, has launched a significant new piece of research on public education, entitled: 'Public education works: lessons from five case-studies in low- and middle- income countries'.

The research showcases positive examples of public education in different contexts and settings. The cases – ranging from Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil to Cuba, Namibia and Vietnam - challenge the widely held idea that public education needs privatisation for quality. Instead, they show that well-organised public education systems are possible and working everywhere, with political will and use of locally relevant practices. 

The research suggests a rights-aligned and socially committed definition of quality – including the aim for social inclusion and equity, the engagement of community and local actors, valuing teachers and respecting local culture.  It concludes that public education works, and is the best way forward for building more equal, just and sustainable societies.

The study is a follow-up to the publication of a policy brief on the same topic, released ahead of the Global Partnership for Education summit in July 2021. The release of this research during the virtual session of the World Bank’s Civil Society Policy Forum adds to the call on the World Bank and other investors to prioritize their support for public education in their efforts to build back more resilient and equitable education systems for all.  

There are three key messages set out in the research:

  • Public education, managed and delivered publicly and in the public interest, is the most effective way to build just, inclusive, and sustainable societies, and to meet SDG 4 and human rights commitments.

  • Using locally relevant practices, strong public education systems are possible in all contexts, including in constrained settings.

  • As a result, public spending and policy efforts, both from governments acting domestically and from donor States and international organisations, must be focused on building strong and free public education systems, and should not be diverted to the private sector, in particular through public-private partnerships.

The research is available in two formats, a Working Paper and a Research Brief. Both are available in English only.