According to international law, States have the principal responsibility ‘to ensure the direct provision of the right to education in most circumstances.  Although private education is allowed under international law, there are specific conditions and limitations under which private education must operate.  While empirical data about the effectiveness of public and private schools is needed to inform the debate on how to achieve quality education, there also needs to be criteria to assess the measures for determining ‘effectiveness’ and to define what models of private education are acceptable.

This paper identifies a set of criteria for assessing the conditions and limitations of private education drawing from human rights standards applicable to African States.  It explore criteria that examine the central role of the State, universal free primary education, progressively available secondary and higher education, the aims of education, non-discrimination, and regulation of private education providers.  An examination of these standards will provide an initial set of criteria for assessing the role of private education in Africa and a basis for further research.

 

This background paper, commissioned by the Education Commission to inform the report The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing worldaims to clarify the relevant provisions in human rights law that refer to the involvement of non-State actors in education in mixed education systems. Making reference to international human rights law, it analyses three cases studies (Pakistan, Chile, and community schools) selected to represent the wide variety of roles played by non-State providers in different geographical areas.

This document compiles the national laws on private provision of education for most of the countries in the world.

On 7 July 2014, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held a General Discussion on the Right to Education for Girls and Women, the aim of which is to commence the Committee’s process of elaborating a “General Recommendation on girls’/women’s right to education.”

Thirteen organizations from around the world, included the Right to Education Initiative, presented a written submission to CEDAW on ‘Privatization and its Impact on the Right to Education of Women and Girls,’ highlighting evidence from a range of countries showing that more boys are enrolled in schools than girls, a problem that is exacerbated by the increasing privatization of education.  Privatization in many cases deepens gender discrimination in education because already marginalized and vulnerable groups, including women and girls, are more disadvantaged by private provision and are the least able to pay for services.

Key resource

This background paper prepared for the Global Education Monitoring Report on non-States' actors in education: Who chooses? Who looses? provides both the rationale and the framework for re-centring a human rights’ perspective in education sector analysis. It draws on international human rights law as specified in the recently adopted Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education, a landmark text for the interpretation of the right to education, in particular in the context of growing privatisation in and of education. The paper outlines how to use the Abidjan Principles to develop a tool to measure if and how States are implementing and individuals are enjoying those rights, with a specific focus on the role of non-State actors. We find that reframing education analysis through a human rights lens provides a sharp contrast to the narrow view of education as a human capital generator. Using the human rights framework of structures, processes, and outcomes, we not only detail questions which can guide future research and advocacy, but also demonstrate its use in evaluating data availability and sector plans in the United States and Côte D’Ivoire and re-evaluating existing conclusions from “The Role and Impact of Private Schools in Developing Countries” (Day Ashley et al., 2014).