Table of Contents

Handbook of International Development and Education

Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.

Chapter 9: Private schooling and development: an overview

Joanna Härmä

Subjects: development studies, development economics, development studies, economics and finance, development economics, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, education policy


Private schools have long been regarded as the preserve of elites. But in the last 15 to 20 years, a new type of private school has emerged, serving the relatively poor at relatively low cost, often fully outside of government oversight and planning. These small private schools, appearing in increasing numbers where government schools are failing (Mehrotra and Panchamukhi, 2007), are looked to as the only hope for accessing a better quality education for many low-earning families. Long before the world has achieved any of the Education for All goals or even just the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, parents in many contexts are already feeling let down by the poor quality of education that government schools offer, and the spontaneous growth of private schools within low-income communities has provided those who can pay with a means of exit. Private schools are promoted as a highly efficient, higher-quality alternative to some ‘broken’ governments. However, the vast majority of the world’s children rely on government provision, while the hardest-to-reach children are for the most part not reached by either government or private sectors due to cost or other barriers.

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