Privatization in and of education in Africa is occurring at a rapid pace. Non-state provision (NSP) of education is delivered by a mix of community, NGO, faith-based, philanthropic and private providers and takes a myriad of forms including low-fee private schools, for-profit private schools, community schools, education public-private partnerships, private tutoring, and religious schooling through madrasas and church schools. While the drivers of NSP in education have historical anchors, the relatively recent tide of low-fee private schools and educational public private partnerships is couched within a neo-liberal agenda and a discourse of state failure. Central to the neo-liberal argument for greater engagement of the private sector in education are arguments of increased effectiveness, efficiency, competition and choice that altogether drive better quality learning outcomes in both state and non-state education.
Yet the rigor of the evidence-base for greater efficiency and effectiveness through privatized education – low-fee private schools in particular – is being questioned, alongside new primary research that challenges these claims. Some emergent concerns include: that quality varies enormously across a range of private providers and in many cases is only marginally better than public education, if at all; that access to better quality institutions is based on the ability to pay thereby further stratifying already divided societies; and that governance of privatized education increasingly abdicates the role of national governments and locks out civil society. Associated concerns include the de-professionalisation of teachers and the erosion of confidence in public education, even in spite of increasingly audible claims around the right to education and the roles of States as duty bearers for its provision.
The global economic climate over the last five years is further reducing the amount of capital being allocated in absolute terms to public education through shrinking national budgets at the same time as reduced overseas aid budgets for education is focusing more sharply on methods for greater private sector engagement in education. As a result, in spite of a burgeoning contrary evidence-base, privatization in and of education continues to increase, promoted by international financial institutions, multi and bi-lateral organizations and private sector providers.
Objectives of the Event
The goal of the conference on Globalization, Regionalization and Privatization in and of Education in Africa is to bring together a range of institutions and representatives for two days to critically debate the relative merits and demerits of privatization in and of education on education quality, equity, effectiveness and efficiency. The intention is for the event to contribute to greater knowledge production and knowledge sharing on privatization in and of education in Africa, and the critical engagement of a broader range of stakeholders in policy discussions and process occurring regionally and nationally across Africa.
Participation is invited from the following types of institutions:
- Academics working on relevant topics in the region
- National education coalitions and regional civil society networks
- National education CSOs
- Regional and national research organizations and institutes
- Bi-lateral organizations with country offices in Africa
- International Financial Institutions (IFIs) working in Africa
- International NGOs working in Africa with a focus of social justice in education
- Multi-lateral organisations working in Africa
Participants are invited to submit abstracts for papers (including case studies) according to the following themes:
- Quality of educational services as a result of alternative educational service regulation and delivery mechanisms
- Quality and/or efficiency of educational governance under conditions of educational liberalisation and marketization
- Equity effects of educational liberalisation and marketization
- Educational Public Private Partnerships (ePPPs) in regional multi-lateral education policy and different forms at national levels
- Feasibility of a unified set of criteria for codifying and / or assessing public and / or private school effectiveness
- Role of international targets, especially the Education for All goals and the Millennium Development goals on privatisation in and of education, and implications for the post-2015 agenda
Please send a 300 word abstract of your paper with a clear title to email@example.com as soon as possible but no later than 6 th August 2012. Please be sure to include your full contact details.
Registration is required by the 17th August 2012. Registration fees will be covered by the Open Society Foundations. Please send an email with your name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited therefore registration will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
Awards for individuals / organisations with challenges to meet travel, accommodation and subsistence costs can be offered. Please send an email with a short explanatory request to email@example.com.
The program will be disseminated in August once abstracts have been approved.
Johannesburg, South Africa