New Research on the Low-Cost Private School Sector
The IDP Foundation, Inc. is committed to collecting data from the low-cost private schools participating in the Rising Schools Program and welcomes the contribution of additional research that highlights the important role this sector plays in providing Education For All.
One such study conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and sponsored by UBS Optimus Foundation demonstrates that the vast proportion of children in four slum communities attain their pre-primary education in private schools serving the poor: Ashaiman (Accra, Ghana), Agege (Lagos, Nigeria), Mukuru (Nairobi, Kenya), and Soweto (Johannesburg, South Africa). Specifically, the study found that 84% of children in the poorest quintile in Ashaiman are receiving a pre-primary education. Of children in preschool, 91% attend a private school.
In a recent Huffington Post Blog featuring this study, the authors Maya Ziswiler and Reinhard Fichtl write that a “burgeoning and competitive market among private preschools suggests that this unique model could meet the needs of marginalized children and the aspirations of low-income parents dissatisfied by the weaknesses of government-provided pre-primary education.” The IDP Foundation wholeheartedly agrees, but extends this statement to include primary and early secondary education. As the IPA study notes, more than 95% of children in private preschool attend a preschool which is attached to a primary school.
With discussions surrounding the post-2015 education agenda in full swing, it is important to include the low-cost private school sector in the provision of quality education for all. The IDP Rising Schools Program is providing low-cost primary private school owners with training in school management and financial literacy, accompanied by microfinance loans in order to improve their quality. Additionally, the IDP Foundation has developed teacher training videos in partnership with Sesame Workshop to promote child-centered learning in primary level classrooms. However, for there to be a systematic improvement of the sector globally, additional attention is required by governments and funders.
Ziswiler and Fichtl state, “the Optimus Foundation intends to build on the existing movement and focus on improving the quality of these existing preschools, rather than creating new ones.” The IDP Foundation is pleased to see other foundations begin to support these existing locally-owned and managed schools serving the poor, and will continue to actively advocate for their inclusion in the global education agenda.
 Bidwell, Kelly; Watine, Loic. “Exploring Early Education Programs in peri-urban Settings in Africa.” Innovations for Poverty Action. 30 January 2014. https://poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/fin…
 Fichtl, Reinhard; Ziswiler, Maya. “Schools in Slums: A Surprising Number of the Poorest Kids Are Enrolled in Private Preschools. Huffington Post Blog. 29 May 2014.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maya-ziswiler/school…