Public-Private Partnerships In Education: Benefits & Drawbacks

When public and private parties work together to provide education, we call it a public-private partnership (PPP). PPPs can help with some of the challenges and gaps in education, such as reaching more students, improving quality, ensuring fairness, and managing resources.

In this EDU Blog, we will explore some of the pros and cons of PPPs in education based on evidence and examples in different contexts.

What are Public-private Partnerships?

Public-private partnerships are long-term agreements between a government agency and a private entity to provide a public service or asset. PPPs can help improve the efficiency and quality of public services such as energy, transportation, education, and healthcare.

PPPs involve sharing the risks and rewards of delivering or enhancing an essential public service.

Types of Public-private Partnerships

Different types of public-private partnerships depend on the degree of risk sharing, responsibility, and control between the partners. Some common types of PPPs are:

  • Build-operate-transfer (BOT): The private partner builds and operates a facility for a fixed period of time, then transfers it to the public authority.

  • Design-build-finance-operate (DBFO): The private partner designs, builds, finances, and operates a facility for a fixed period of time, then transfers it to the public authority.

  • Concession: The private partner uses and maintains an existing facility owned by the public administration and collects revenues from users or customers.

  • Lease: The private partner leases an existing facility owned by the public authority. It operates and maintains it for a fixed period of time.

  • Management contract: The private partner manages and operates an existing facility owned by the public authority and receives a fee for its services.

Public-private Partnership in Education

Public-private partnerships in education are a form of collaboration between the government and the private sector to provide educational services. The main goal of such partnerships is to improve the quality, access, and equity of education, especially for disadvantaged groups.

PPPs in education can take various forms, such as contracting out, vouchers, subsidies, charter schools, low-cost private schools, and social impact bonds.

Public-private Partnership Pros and Cons in education

Benefits of PPPs in Education

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can help education in many ways. One way is to make schools try new things. PPPs let private groups have more freedom. They can use new ways to teach better and get better results.

For example, some PPPs let good private schools run public schools. They build better buildings and enable great educators to teach poor students.

Other PPPs help groups outside their country, like NGOs or faith groups. They give education in places where it is hard to go or where public schools need to be adjusted or not available.

Another way PPPs can help education is to make schools responsible for their results. PPPs give money or rewards based on performance or outcomes. PPPs can create a culture of responsibility and honesty in education.

For instance, some PPPs pay private schools based on how many students they have or how well they learn. Other PPPs make rules and standards for private schools and check their work with reviews or audits.

A third way PPPs can help education is to give more power to parents and students. They do this by giving them more choices and voices. PPPs make it easier for more different schools to join the market. PPPs can increase the options for parents and students, especially those unhappy with or left out of public education.

For example, some PPPs provide support to low-income families to send their children to the private schools they choose. Other PPPs allow parents to give feedback  or make decisions on school management.

Drawbacks of PPPs in Education

On the other hand, public-private partnerships in education face some significant issues. One problem is that they can make education unfair. Some students and schools get more benefits than others. This can divide and separate people by their social status or needs.

For example, some PPPs let private schools decide who can go to their school. They can pick students based on how well they do in school or how much money their parents have. This means that some students might not get a chance to go to these schools even if they want to.

Another problem is that PPPs can lower the quality of education. They can change the standards or policies for private educators. This can make education not the same everywhere.

For instance, some PPPs do not check if private providers have good educators or courses. This leads to low-quality or unqualified educators or courses. Other PPPs do not watch or control what private providers do. This leads to cheating or lying with data.

The third problem is that PPPs can make governance harder. They can create conflicts or confusion among different sectors. They can also reduce the public’s power or voice over education.

For example, some PPPs give private sectors too much power or influence over public policy or money. This makes them less accountable or responsible to the public. Other PPPs do not include or listen to influential groups, such as Educators’ Unions or Civil Society Groups, in making or doing policies.


Public-private partnership aims to make education better, more accessible, and fairer for everyone, especially those who are poor or marginalized.

Public-private partnerships in education can have some benefits, such as making education more efficient, innovative, accountable, and responsive to local needs. But it can also have challenges and risks, such as losing public control, creating inequality, encouraging corruption, and lowering standards.

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