New Actors and Modes of Governance in a Globalizing World
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Karen Mundy, Antoni Verger and Francine Menashy
Chapter 12: Is Low-fee Private Primary Schooling Affordable for the Poor? Evidence from Rural India
Joanna Härmä and Pauline Rose Introduction Basic education is often regarded in international agreements and national constitutions as being a state responsibility. Since the 1990s, an international consensus has formed around the need for primary schooling to be fee-free. This consensus was deeply rooted in the World Forum for Education for All held in Dakar in 2000. At the same time, concern for achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) by 2015 has led to a focus on the role that non-state providers can play in extending education access and improving its quality, including at the primary level. Even though much of this provision has grown by default, a more explicit international policy focus towards non-state provision has become apparent in recent years as a response to the limited resources available for education. The policy focus has been further reinforced by the recent global economic crisis (Rose 2010). As such, there has been a shift in international attention from advocating private financing of public provision that predominated during the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, towards public financing of private provision in recent years. Along with the increased international policy interest in non-state provision, there is some evidence of growth in commercially oriented private schools charging relatively modest fees in many developing countries, or low-fee private (LFP) schools (Srivastava 2006). This has given rise to a lively debate about the quality of such provision, its cost, and the implications that this has for choices for...
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