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ESSAY 2: Exploring models for Public Private Partnership in Education

Essay Synopsis: One of the major challenges that governments across the globe face is how to consistently maintain and improve the quality of education across all the socioeconomic levels with an increasingly limited pool of resources. For developing nations of the Globe national Government faces the predicament of multiple demands from various corners of the democratic arena coupled with a constant shortage of resources to meet these demands. Studies carried out across the globe hint towards the idea that state owned systems alone cannot alter the system single handed; experts have proposed partnership systems with the private sector as a potential solution. The essay explores the different types of PPP (public-private partnerships) models available, the Management model, Service delivery model and the Voucher Model. Then it weighs the strengths and weaknesses of these models and throws light as to how, they can achieve the desired national educational goals. The essay finally discusses the process of mitigating risks associated with PPP and when effectively managed, how they contribute towards improving the education systems.

Introduction A nations economic, political and social development is critically dependent on Education. It is widely believed to help people escape from poverty and participate more fully in society and in the market place. Moreover it is increasingly becoming evident that nations with high literacy rates have high levels of socio-economic stability as compared with lower literacy rates. Across the globe 77 million children are out of school. The challenges are grave in developing countries, where only half of children who began in grade 1 are able to complete Grade 5 (United Nations 2006). Developing countries not only face the issue of getting children enrolled in the schools but suffer from a systemic substandard quality of education. The challenge thus for these countries lies not only in access, but in improving the quality of learning outcomes. Publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) in education are receiving widespread attention. There are various forms in which the private sector facilitates the promotion of education in developing countries: in the form of philanthropic activities, high engagement ventures, and collaborations. The concept of Public private partnership recognizes the fact that there are alternative options for providing education services besides public finance and public delivery. Models in Public private partnerships The key rationale for building PPPs is to promote quality, equity and access in the education, particularly for marginalized groups. The models represented here shall focus on attaining the different objectives in different socio-economic and political contexts. A World Bank report states that the marginalised sections of society can receive good services if all the stakeholders (Government, citizens and service providers) work hand in glove with each other (World Bank, 2006) Management Model Governments in any nation maintain and run a large part of the public school system, and one of the major constraints that has been observed in such arrangements is weak management (Harry Anthony Patrinos, Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Juliana Guqueta). To deal with this problem, some governments have brought in private organizations to manage either a single public school or an entire public school district. In a management contract model a government agency contracts a private provider to manage an existing government service or set of services using government infrastructure. The rationale for engaging private sector in management is multi-fold: bringing in professional skills and new ideas from the private sector, giving managers the freedom to manage the established set up, reducing the bureaucratic and union constraints associated with public service employment, and enabling education authorities to specify performance requirements unsatisfactory performance. Management models can undoubtedly work in the area of PPPs but often it becomes difficult to specify and monitor the performance of the managers as distinct from the organisation. Because many factors contribute to school performance besides the quality of management, it would be inappropriate to attribute changes in school performance simply to the effects of the management contract.

Services Model In a service delivery model the Government agency contracts with a private provider to deliver specified service or a set of services using privately owned infrastructure. The services delivery model is usually rendered professional services arena. In case of professional services the state can contract teacher training, textbook delivery, curriculum design, quality certification and supplemental services among others. The main advantage of such services is that it brings in the given providers a particular expertise that can possible improve the quality of education. As in a professional services model, the inputs are easy to specify and the performance of the providers can be easily monitored. Service providers are also under competitive pressures to maintain high levels of quality and contracts can be suspended in case of contractors inability to provide assured services. Contractors can deliver inputs to a large number of schools and thereby achieve economies of scale. One of the prime advantages of such a model is the selection of efficient organisations for providing quality services. Many public systems contract some or the other service, for instance public food authorities hardly ever run food services in schools. Service delivery models do have some potential flipsides. Governments can run into the risk of selecting a potential agency which may not have the capacity and the capability to run services at a scale. Such models can also induce corruption into the system as midsize vendors can lobby governments to undertake service contracts by promoting kickbacks in the system.
Voucher Models Vouchers, Scholarships, stipends, community financing, targeted bursaries, student loans, community grants, and public assistance to private schools are examples of demand-side financing components. In such a model the disbursements can be made in dual ways: the public entity gives the incentives directly to students that may be redeemed to help offset all or part of the cost of tuition at a school of their choice or the school can link the finance mechanisms with student enrolments and achievements.

Vouchers come in a variety of forms. They may cover the full cost of tuition at a school or they may cover only a part - with students paying the rest. The voucher may be limited to covering all or part of tuition fees only or they may also cover other costs such as transportation, uniforms, books, etc. Vouchers may be made available to all students or they may be targeted toward specific groups for example, girls in rural areas, students from poor families, etc. Achieving National Goals through Public Private Partnerships The PPP mechanism can be very effective to fulfil the following three fundamental national objectives: a) Increase enrolment b) improve educational outcomes in terms of student achievement and c) enhance quality in access to basic education.

PPPs in any system can inject competition in the market of education. Vendors and service providers in the private sector would compete for students, with the public sector. The effect of the same would encourage the public sector to improve the quality of services provided by them, which in turn would lead to increased levels of student enrolment. Second PPPs promote flexibility and enhance educational outcomes by allowing flexibility in terms of recruitments, encouraging new interventions for promoting student learning, and designing innovative methods for improving the overall educational system. PPPs proposals across governments are chosen through an open bidding process especially based on the capability, capacity and the quality criteria. Contracts usually stipulate a certain level of quality to be maintained and the best proposals among the bidders is chosen, leading to improvements across the various spheres of education. PPPs combine, the strengths of government, the private sector, and civil society stakeholders and thereby create new frontiers in the arena of education reform initiatives. Risk associations and mitigation strategies Governments across the globe fear the fact that the private sector can churn money from the common masses as their motto always has been wealth maximization. There are also dangers that the private players make deliver inferior or substandard services by overcharging the common people. Some of the risks associated with PPPs and the strategies to overcome them have been discussed below: Perception that private sector would exploit the common people and thereby proving to jeopardise the national goals. - Governments across the globe especially in the developing nations are hostile to private providers of education, particularly those that are for-profit. One way to control this aspect would be to introduce a policy, that clearly defines the place of private providers in the national long-term education strategy and clearly demarcate the roles and responsibilities of all the players involved. Private schools are only for the wealthy Governments have to create an atmosphere where both for-profit and not for profit schools also operate -Private for-profit schools play a significant and growing role in many countries. While private schools are often seen as catering solely to the wealthy, research shows that they play an important, unsung, role in reaching the poor and satisfying their educational needs of the society. Private for-profit schools come in a variety of forms, including single owner-operated schools, chains that operate a large number of schools, and education management organisations. Allowing the establishment of private schools to be set up with clear and stated objective and thereby checking the growth of pseudo schools which are established to churn money from the common people As earlier mentioned countries across the globe, limit the scope for new providers to enter the education marketplace. An effective solution would be to set up minimum standards to ensure the quality and safety of private sector provision and protect consumers from unscrupulous operators. However these benefits must be balanced against the negative impact of overly restrictive entry regulation.

Conclusion Governments across the globe are willing to innovate and try new experiments in order to expand access, improve quality and efficiency in their education system. Governments should ensure a supportive and a regulatory environment to engage the private sector productive fashion. Countries have to ensure that the regulatory environment: Supports school to be autonomous and allows them to innovate to improve the quality of education Encourages multiple providers and fosters a competitive environment so as the parental community has options to choose from the service providers. Facilitates free flow of information related to systems performance so that the community can exercise their right of voice and choice Injects an accountability system that engages all stake holders and ensures that the processes are rigorous and transparent.