Financing Education Through Domestic Resources
Ensuring a quality education for all children presents a huge financing challenge in low- and middle-income countries. Even with substantial increases in education budgets over the last ten years, especially in African countries, financing has not kept pace with demand for public education. As more and more children have entered schools, already constrained budgets have been stretched ever thinner, with governments skimping on critical areas, for instance, by recruiting low-qualified and underpaid teachers. This chronic underinvestment has led to appallingly poor quality levels of schools across the developing world, with an estimated 130 million children in low and middle income countries failing to acquire basic reading and numeracy skills in school.
Not only do governments need to find more money to improve education quality, but they still have to deal with the unfinished business of ensuring all children can complete primary school. There are still 57 million children not in primary school at all, and an estimated 120 million who drop out before grade 4 - they need targeted investments to bring them into classrooms. Meanwhile, pressure is also mounting from growing young populations in the developing world to further expand secondary schooling.
Funding these competing needs is a huge financing challenge. This has been made even more difficult in the wake of the financial crisis, especially in low-income countries, who are struggling to find enough resources to massively expand their own financing, while aid to basic education from rich countries is rapidly decreasing. This means that low- and middle-income countries will almost certainly need to find other major sources of, as yet, untapped revenue.
The Global Campaign for Education's report, A Taxing Business: Financing Education For All Through Domestic Resources, identifies four major steps towards achieving increased domestic resources and the vast impact this could make on ensuring quality, public education for all.
- In Zambia, the government estimated that the country is losing a total of US$2 billion annually through corporate tax avoidance – more than twice the total annual education budget.
- Tax exemptions in Nicaragua, are worth two and a half times the primary education budget.
- Uganda lost US $272 million from tax incentives, this is equivalent to almost the total primary education budget in 2012
- In Kenya, the government has estimated that all tax incentives and exemptions stand at around US $1.1 billion annually: this could more than double the primary education budget. In a country where 1 million children are missing out on primary school, this could pay for them to be enrolled in school ten times over.
- In Ghana, a study estimated that between 2007 and 2009, mining deals led to a loss of around US $36 million a year.The US $36 million lost each year through mining deals could pay for 18,500 untrained primary school teachers to be trained, and could have ensured all teachers are trained within four years.
- Christian Aid estimates that Peru lost US $849 million through poor collection of mining royalties from 1994 to 2006.This amount could have paid for four years of schooling for every single one of the nearly half a million children of primary or lower secondary school age who are currently out of school in Peru.
- UNESCO has recently estimated that for 17 countries already rich in resources or with recently discovered deposits, revenue from natural resources could finance access to primary school for 86% of out-of-school children if their governments maximised the revenue generated and dedicated a significant share to education. This could reach the equivalent of US $5 billion a year – two and a half times the amount that these countries received in aid to education in 2010.
- Brazil has just passed a resolution, which means that 75% of drilling royalties the Brazilian government receives from oilfields in the so-called ‘pre-salt’ layer are to be invested in education. This could equal US$75 billion over the next ten years.
Privatisation in Education
In the last decade, policies that involve some level of education privatisation, including public-private partnerships (PPPs), vouchers and “low-fee” private schools, have become increasingly prominent in global education debates and policies. The urgent need to achieve the Education For All goals and the MDGs, as well as the effects of the financial crisis worldwide, has made governments and international organisations more willing to introduce different forms of education privatisation. At the same time, the private sector is increasingly targeting public education systems as profitable markets, seeing business (and profit) opportunities through the sale of textbooks, consultancies, ICT technologies, teacher training, evaluation systems, tests, etc. This new push for private sector engagement in education is arguably shrinking the space for public processes of policy making and debate, sidelining citizens as the key drivers of policy while private corporations and organisations become more dominant.
Many national coalitions within the GCE membership are reporting negative effects of privatisation and public-private partnerships, especially in terms of the impact on equality and the promotion of an education consistent with human rights and the public good. The growth of privatisation is also recognized as a human rights concern internationally.
For example, read the latest Report on Privatisation from the UN Special Rapporteur on Education (Sept 2014)
in English, French, Spanish or Arabic.
GCE and Member Materials on Privatisation in Education
Civil society organisations that defend public education and public policy making must act to defend public education.
Joint submission to CEDAW on impact of privatisation of education on girls’ education.
Download in English here
“Gain or Drain: Understanding Public Private Partnerships in Education” ASPBAE primer on PPP in Education.
Download in English here
CLADE website on privatisation of education in Latin America, in Spanish
Workshops on Privatisation in Education
GCE undertook a range of workshops on privatisation in different regions to contribute towards building the movement on the issue.
Manila Workshop on Privatisation in Education: ‘Privatisation, public-private partnerships and the right to education: building critical research skills.’ The workshop was organized in 1-3 August 2013 by GCE, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ASPBAE and E-NET Philippines in Manila. Pre-Event Materials can be found here (in English)
Workshop on Privatisation in Africa: Education International research affiliates and GCE coalition representatives came together for a three-day Africa and MENA regional conference on “Privatisation and the Right to Education” in Johannesburg, South Africa on 16-18 January 2014. An overview of the workshop can be accessed here
Privatisation of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Report from a seminar held in 2012 by the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) and OSF.
Download report in English and Spanish.
Resources on Privatisation in Education
The Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) website has a vast amount of information and resources www.periglobal.org
Materials on the issue from a human rights perspective can be accessed on the privatisation section of the Right to Education Project website
Education International also has some excellent resources on the issue, accessible here
The Global Initiative on Economic and Socio Cultural Rights (GIESCR) also has some good resources. Go here for more on their research, and here for their community page and blog.
New resources for civil society education coalitions: Using human rights tools to tackle the negative effects of privatisation on the right to education - 2015
For the past 18 months, a number of international, national and local organisations have worked together to research and assess the effects of the growth of privatisation in education from a human rights perspective in 8 countries. These include Morocco, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Brazil, Chile and Nepal, and in the UK, organisations have examined the impact of development aid to support to private education in developing countries. This work, led by the Global Initiative on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) in Partnership with the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) and the Right to Education Project (RTE), has led to statements and recommendations from key UN rights bodies, and contributed to reports by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on the impact of private actors on the right to education.
These efforts have fuelled national advocacy and dialogue with governments, private actors and other stakeholders on the issue of privatisation – and created an effective methodology that civil society can use to tackle issues of privatisation in education in their countries. The methodology can easily be replicated by coalitions, including those with no prior experience of using human rights mechanisms. The three short briefs below provide an introduction to this work and explains how to get involved.
Private actors in Education & Human Rights: a practical methodology to tackle the negative effects of privatisation in education on the right to education
Download in English Download in French
How to Use Human Rights Mechanisms
Download in English Download in French
Case Studies on: Parallel Reporting to Tackle Privatisation in Education
Download in English Download in French
Hidden Privatisation in Public Education
This report by Stephen Ball and Deborah Youdell, Institute for Education on behalf of Education International, focuses on the growing tendency amongst governments world-wide to introduce forms of privatisation into public education and to move to privatise sections of public education.
Public Private Partnerships in Education
An Education International research report focusing on the types and impact of privatisation in education, with recommendations for members and campaigning organisations on combating the challenges posed.
Global Managerial Education - Reforms And Teachers: Emerging Policies, Controversies And Issues In Developing Contexts
Volume of national case studies compiled on behalf of Education International
UK Parliamentary Debate: the notes of a 2012 debate on low fee private schools and global education for all, held by politicians and experts in the UK parliament.
BBC News article based on the discussion at the above meeting.
A PERI Debate on Privatisation in Education
This video examines the growing trend of privatisation of education globally through the voices of the participants of a summer school on regionalisation, globalisation and privatisation of education.
Education for all: who learns? Who pays? And why?
This lecture by Joel Samoff (Stanford University) was given as part the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative’s summer school on Globalisation, Regionalisation and Privatisation of Education. It explores global targets associated with the education for all from aspects of access, quality and the role of education in society as well as the associated financing of education and how it is structured.
A film exploring the impact of low-fee private schools in Pakistan.
Sponsored Academies in the UK
These types of school are an example of education public-private partnerships (ePPPs).
Privatised Education in Chile: Legacy and Protest
Privatisation and its impact in a country with vast economic inequality.
For Profit Schools in South Africa
A film exploring the growth of private schools in South Africa.
Private tutoring in Cambodia
A film exploring the impact of private tutoring on pupils and teachers in Cambodia.
Arch Comix: Education
An interesting comic strip taking a view on privatisation in education in the US.