Early education for all: is there a role for the private sector?

Woodhead, Martin and Streuli, Natalia (2013). Early education for all: is there a role for the private sector? In: Britto, Pia ed. Handbook of Early Childhood Development Research and Its Impact on Global Policy. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199922994.003.0016


The ‘private-for-profit’ sector is a significant provider of global ECCE, along with NGO, church-based and other non-government programs. This chapter explores how these trends contribute to policy goals, focusing especially on the risks that a growing ‘private-for-profit’ sector may amplify inequities in access and quality. We review the kinds of government financing and regulation required to harness private sector providers to achieve comprehensive ECCE goals, recognizing that the private sector varies in respect of finance, management and client group. We offer a taxonomy of four major functions for the private-for-profit sector, in its relationship to public policies and services, drawing on Young Lives country case studies of Peru, Ethiopia and India. The potential of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) has been widely discussed in relation to early childhood, but less commonly implemented fully. We draw attention to the risks of current laissez-faire approaches, favoring positive, pro-equity policies, including adequate governance of the private sector, which is not an alternative to quality publicly funded services.

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