Handbook of International Development and Education
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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.
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Chapter 27: Formulating the recipe for the ideal low-cost private school – hints on the ingredients

James Centenera


What do private schools, hair products, and mechanical parts have in common? They are three of the most common billboards found in Accra, Ghana. What do private schools, mobile telecommunications, and clothing brands have in common? They are three of the most common billboards found in Hyderabad, India. Although these may not statistically be the top three, these are what struck me on recent trips around both cities. Low-cost private schools (LCPSs) all throughout the developing world are emerging and changing the education landscape. From Accra to Nairobi, to Karachi, to Dhaka, to Bogota, LCPSs are educating millions and continue to grow. Even in areas where they are not widespread, they are coming. For example, although the Philippines seems to have fewer primary and secondary LCPSs compared to India, the growth of pre-primary LCPSs is rapid and suggests more to come. Why is this happening? Parents are demanding more. All across the world, communities that are not satisfied with their existing local schools are seeking out better options. They value education as much, if not more, than the middle-and high-income segments of the population. Therefore, members of the community, whether they be teachers or local business people, have taken the initiative and started setting up their own schools. With this advancement of LCPSs, people are asking, “Are they any good?” or, “Are they sustainable?” (UNESCO, 2014).

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