This paper presents a review of evidence on the role and impact of private schools on the education of school-aged children in developing countries. It was commissioned by the Department for International Development (DFID) and produced by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Birmingham and the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report.
The focus of the review is on private school delivery of education to poorer sections of societies, including private schools identified as low-fee private schools (LFPs). The research question driving the review is: Can private schools improve education for children in developing countries? The strength of the evidence is assessed and varies according to different criteria: quality of teaching, cost of education delivery, gender, state regulation, etc.
In addition to the gaps identified from the areas that remain inconclusive, some overarching critical gaps and areas for further research that could strengthen this evidence base are identified.
The paper argues that arriving at general conclusions from the evidence reviewed is difficult because of the diversity of private schools, the significant gaps in the evidence and the fact that available research is rarely generalisable in itself. What is clear according to the authors, is the need for more targeted research to fill the gaps in our understanding of the role and impact of private schools in developing countries.