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Engaging the Private Sector

In recent years, the private sector in education – which includes a vibrant mix of for-profit, non-profit, and faith-based schools – has grown substantially in many countries and is now receiving greater attention in policy discussions. How can countries ensure that private schooling helps promote learning for all children and youth? SABER-Engaging the Private Sector (EPS) provides guidance on this issue, by cataloging the policies governing the private sector in different countries and assessing how well those policies are oriented toward promoting learning for all.

Engaging the Private Sector IN ACTION

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Available: At least one SABER Country Report is approved and available
In Process: SABER teams are currently collecting and analyzing data for the countries

What does SABER-Engaging the Private Sector do?

The SABER-EPS approach is built around the recognition that the non-state sector’s involvement in the finance, provision, and governance of basic education services can take various forms. These types of engagement can be grouped into five categories:

  1. Private schools (i.e., independent schools)
  2. Government-funded private schools
  3. Government-contracted private schools
  4. Privately managed schools (e.g., charter schools, concession schools, free schools)
  5. Market-contracted schools (e.g., vouchers)

SABER-EPS first determines which of these five school types exist in each country, and then systematically analyzes and benchmarks the current policies governing each of these school models. This analysis and benchmarking does not follow any standardized international model, but is tailored to each country’s individual needs: the country first determines which types of private sector engagement (if any) are appropriate for delivering education services, and SABER-EPS assesses only the policies governing these types of engagement.

How does SABER-EPS help improve education policies and systems?

SABER-EPS expands knowledge of government policies, of operating environments, and of current types of engagement with the private sector in different countries, and it explores best practices for engaging the sector in delivering education services to the poor. SABER-EPS aims to contribute to a changing, more nuanced view of the state’s role in promoting learning for all—one based on the recognition that while basic education remains a public responsibility, governments have at their disposal a variety of models for financing and providing high-quality education services that promote equity goals. For the large majority of countries that choose not to be the sole provider of education services, SABER-EPS provides guidance on how to ensure that the work of non-state providers helps meet national education goals.

What matters most in EPS?

The SABER-EPS approach is based on the global evidence on effective education service delivery (World Development Report 2004; Patrinos et al., 2009). That evidence suggests that, to leverage their private-sector engagement in ways that most effectively promotes learning for all, countries should aim to achieve four key goals in their policy frameworks:

  1. Encouraging innovation by providers. Schools are enabled to tailor teaching, hiring, and other decision-making to meet the needs of all students.
  2. Promoting diversity of supply. New schools offering a range of models are freely able to enter the market.
  3. Empowering all parents. Parents are given access to accurate performance information, so they can use their voice and agency to demand high-quality services and better outcomes.
  4. Holding schools accountable. Policymakers hold all schools to account for the quality of services they provide.