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What makes a successful Public Private Partnership (education) model?

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Ayushi Tandon

Since the creation of modern education systems, the private sector has been involved in education activities even if political factors, resources available and local traditions have influenced the role that the latter has played. Religious schools, education entrepreneurs, families or community organisations have participated in activities of provision and funding of education across India. However, new arrangements between the state and private actors are emerging in the education field, often introduced under the umbrella of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

PPPs are defined as a new form of education governance that seeks to correct inefficiencies in public delivery of education services and to mobilise new resources to make education more effective. The evolution of India’s education system has been driven by increased focus on basic elementary education, therefore PPPs at the elementary level will take longer to mature as the political climate slowly evolves and becomes more conducive to usher in professional PPP frameworks. At the secondary level, however, there is arguably greater acceptance of the entire PPP debate and where Model Schools schemes appear as the most fertile area for PPP engagement.

Yet, while PPP initiatives in India have grown stronger, there are two factors that are essential for the success of such models:

  1. Appropriate funding and adequate mobilisation of resources
  2. Autonomy to optimise the school management’s ability to function

These are exemplified in the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) model. PEF is an organisation founded by the Provincial Assembly of Punjab to sponsor PPPs in education. Their model demonstrates that public and private institutions working together can be extremely successful due to a combination of private sector efficiency and public sector funding. In case of PEF model, it has been seen that funding a service can be separated from its actual provision and favourably impact quality, accessibility and accountability.

In the case of the Foundation Assisted School (FAS) program, another PPP model in Punjab, Pakistan; financing comes from the public sector to the selected private institutions. While the institution’s management remains autonomous, the Quality Assurance Test (QAT) drives in accountability from the FAS partners to meet quality requirements. (Read more)

Additionally, the development of school vouchers scheme in a PPP format with the example of Pahal in Uttarakhand, shows how specific issues of marginalisation and social integration can successfully be addressed. Pahal is an initiative launched by the SSA in Uttarakhand for providing education to urban underprivileged children (6-14 years) in three districts of the state. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has entered into Public Private Partnership with the government recognised private schools in urban city slums. The scheme has a provision of INR 3,000 per annum and per-child, payable in three equal installments directly to the accredited schools. The Pahal scheme began in Dehradun on a pilot basis in 2007-2008 and later extended to Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar. (Read more)

Hence, we must work towards systemic reforms for existing PPPs such as the government-aided school systems and the enforcement of the 25% reservations. We need to put a sustained effort in delineating distinct roles for the private and public players. It is necessary to find the right balance between securing the necessary autonomy for private partners to function efficiently, while making them accountable, to provide a better quality of instruction that will strengthen PPPs role in education provision.

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