On 22 September 2022, on the occasion of the second day of mobilisation against the commodification of education, the Right to Education Initiative and its partners in the Francophone world co-organized a webinar on the theme ‘State of play of the privatisation of education in Francophone Africa, comparative perspective’ which brought together more than 80 participants, from civil society organisations, governments and international institutions.
On this occasion, Thibaut Lauwrier, researcher at the University of Geneva and coordinator of the Francophone Research Network on the Privatisation of Education (ReFPE), presented a synthesis of the main challenges of the privatisation of education in Francophone Africa based on research conducted by 13 researchers of the network in 2021 and 2022 in five countries (Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Niger and Togo). He stressed in his introduction the importance of avoiding a simplistic discourse on a complex subject and therefore of nuancing the analysis. The study shows:
increasing privatisation in pre-school and secondary education
strong disparities in educational provision, with a lack of public schools in rural areas and poor quality community schools
a deliberate choice for the more privileged and a lack of choice for the less privileged. Depending on their socio-economic background, families do not have the same choices.
increasing support for private provision and a lack of state control
a lack of data on the private sector, which is much needed
On the basis of this study and following discussions at a seminar organised in Dakar in June 2022 with national and international institutions, a series of recommendations have been drawn up on the basis of the Abidjan Principles and aimed at education policies:
ensure access to quality public education for all
guarantee equitable access to quality education at all levels in the public and private sectors
promote improved working conditions for private teachers
establish effective regulation of private provision
develop and make available quality and freely accessible statistics
Two civil society organisation representatives, Huguette RAKOTOARIVONY of CONAMEPT Madagascar and Assim KONATÉ of Tribune Jeunes pour le Droit in Mali, also intervened to present the synthesis of four research studies conducted in Mali, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Madagascar on the privatisation of education. These studies highlighted common problems in these four countries:
parents forced to choose private education because of the lack of public schools
precarious working conditions for teachers in public schools
high school fees, which are a factor of socio-economic inequality and discrimination
insufficient regulation of public schools.
One member of the audience reacted by saying that in Algeria ‘the private sector takes advantage of experienced, state-trained teachers who are at the end of their careers or retired, and who are obliged to join the private sector in order to make a profit at the end of the month’.
The discussion also benefited from the contributions of the representatives of the Ministry of Education of Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, respectively Maguette Sow DIA and Mrs. Mariam TOURE, who shed light on the situation and the regulation of private actors in their countries.
Finally, Guy-Roger KABA, representing CONFEMEN, praised the work of the Francophone Network against the commodification of education. He stressed that the privatisation of education is a complex issue. He also noted that wealthy parents can allow their children to benefit from paid tutoring, which increases social inequalities. He recommended measures to regulate this phenomenon and to improve learning conditions in the public sector.
These interventions were followed by a discussion with the participants.
The video call for mobilisation by Mrs. Aïcha Bah DIALLO, former Guinean Minister of Education, was broadcast at the closure of the first section of the webinar.
The second section was devoted to workshops on three questions:
How to strengthen the public education offer?
How to guarantee quality employment conditions for teachers?
What control and regulation of public schools?
Delphine Dorsi, Director of the Right to Education Initiative and member of the Steering Committee of the network, concluded the webinar by inviting the different actors to continue the mobilisation around the promotion of access to free quality public education for all in order to avoid the development of a multi-speed education according to the means of the families.
Videos on the research carried out by civil society organisations will be disseminated in the near future as tools for mobilisation and advocacy.
View the recording of the webinar (in French) here: