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Mobilizing the private sector for public education

Harvard University recently put together an excellent conference on mobilizing the private sector for public education. The relevant papers and presentations, by both donors and academia, are now available online and provide a great summary of current trends and issues.

For example, Harry Patrinos points out that we still don’t know enough about the results of private contracting in developing countries.

Future of education in New Orleans?

The New Zealand Education Forum has released the latest issue of their SubText newsletter. Among other things, this issue includes a summary of James Tooley on how private education can serve the world’s poor, Caroline Hoxby on the effectiveness of charter schools, and the (possibly positive?) future of schooling in New Orleans.

No school fees, but what about efficiency?

The President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, has taken the brave step of dropping fees for primary school, thereby making access to primary education easier for many children in the country. But what about the education sector's ability to cope with a sudden increase in demand for education? Are there enough teachers? Is there enough money? And, as the student to teacher ratio will inevitably increase, what happens to the quality of education these children will receive?

Grade inflation

Grade inflation is also the product of competition. Competition improves performance and mostly this is good: it leads to lower prices and shorter queues at the checkout. But the process has perverse results when the product is performance measurement, and the buyer is the person whose performance is being measured.

That's John Kay in the Financial Times, on why competition is not always good.

Private education under the radar

James Tooley argues that private education is cheaper and more effective than public education.

For instance, in Lagos State, the mean maths score advantage over government schools was about 15 and 19 percentage points more respectively in private registered and unregistered schools, while in English it was 23 and 30 percentage points more.