Role Of Private In A PPP Model For Education, Healthcare And Skilling

"A partner keen to enter a PPP with the government seeks a meaningful partnership with the government wherein it proposes to significantly impact the quality of education and consequently, improve the enrolment rate, pass percentages and reduce drop-out rates."

The recently launched National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) estimates an aggregate monetisation potential of Rs 6 lakh crores through core assets of the Central Government, over four years. Asset monetisation here refers to the process of creating new sources of revenue for the government and its entities by unlocking the economic value of unutilised or underutilised public assets. 

This can set the context for a similar exercise in the education services sector under Public-Private Partnership (PPP). While the end objective is certainly not monetisation, it can be to unlock the hidden value of delivering better education services to the 200 million children of India who attend government schools by better utilisation of the government-owned infrastructure of more than 1.2 million government schools. 

One may wonder why this is necessary, especially for education that is positioned as a fundamental right for every child aged 6 to 14 under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution.

India today is on the cusp of a new world order, one that is attempting to modernise every developing nation, making the distance between countries smaller and moving from a universe to a META -verse where almost everything and everyone will be connected through technology. Yet, the country’s school education system continues to grapple with:

  1. Enrolment declines in public schools
  2. Education dropouts and attrition in higher graders
  3. Lack of basic infrastructure and facilities in many government schools
  4. Poor distribution of teachers leading to an imbalance in the teacher-pupil ratio 
  5. Lack of accessibility to modern tools and methods of teaching that have made a huge impact in the private K-12 education space

The above issues have almost caused the school education machinery to be in a critical stage that needs immediate attention. There is a need for a series of reforms in the education policies and a special emphasis on the execution of education services through a PPP model.

Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) in education

A perfect Public-Private Partnership in the education ecosystem is an association between the government of the state that owns the schools and private institutions involved in education delivery, through various expertise such as technology or education delivery expertise or content. This is aimed at bringing out better learning outcomes. 

A partner keen to enter a PPP with the government seeks a meaningful partnership with the government wherein it proposes to significantly impact the quality of education and consequently, improve the enrolment rate, pass percentages and reduce drop-out rates.

The PPP arrangement can help with the following: 

  1. Help extend the reach of the government system to provide children access to schools. 
  2. Get private operators to manage high-quality schools in empty buildings, thereby helping governments effectively utilise existing infrastructure.  Major cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Ahmedabad have experienced up to 25 per cent decline in enrolment in government schools leading to underutilised infrastructure. This can be set right.
  3. Through PPPs, private operators can introduce innovative pedagogical and school management techniques to create models of excellence within the government system.

PPP models have helped countries rise to a new level of delivery in education standards. Below are some famous international examples of public-private partnerships:

Charter schools 

Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded schools that are independent of school districts through contracts with state or local boards. The idea was first implemented in Minnesota in the US in 1992. These charter schools are subject to fewer rules, regulations, statutes and operate as autonomous public schools. Charter schools have more flexibility in curriculum designing and teacher hiring. In return for flexibility and autonomy, they must meet the accountability standards outlined in their charter. 

These schools are funded on a per-student basis and sponsored by state districts and funded by state or central funding. Today there are 6,000 charter schools in the US educating, covering approximately 6 per cent of the students in the country.

Construction PPPs in Greece 

24 Schools to be built under the PPP project in the wider Athens area covering 6,500 students in 10 municipalities. The contract entails the design-build-finance operation and maintenance of the schools. 

The government of Greece provided the land, enabled payment monthly for operating and management of the schools and the project was executed through an SPV created between the government and the private player. 

PPP school project in Australia 

The state government of Victoria entered a PPP contract with Learning Communities Victoria (LCV) to finance, design, construct and maintain 15 schools in some of Victoria’s key growth areas.

The project had a capital value of $291 million and included a 25-year operating term throughout which LCV will maintain the school facilities. The schools were opened in 2017 and 2018 school years and will have a focus on exemplary educational design, the development of innovative community hubs, and the support of inclusive education for all learners, regardless of ability. The state provided a quarterly payment for managing the schools and the execution was by an SPV.

The above examples demonstrate how introducing new standards of excellence creates a higher level of discussion around education quality. India has started to make a mark on the world map in many areas, be it diplomatic or economic or political. Is it time to make a mark in education using well-thought-through Public-Private Partnership models? We leave it for readers to think over.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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