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.