Equity and quality in an education public-private partnership

A study of the World Bank-supported PPP in Punjab, Pakistan

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) in education are increasing in profile as countries grapple with serious challenges of educational access and quality—and as donors such as the World Bank turn to this approach as they advise countries on potential solutions to these barriers. Evidence is still limited on the impacts of this policy approach, however, and the academic literature that looks at equity and inclusion raises profound concerns.

This study seeks to understand the impact of the PPP initiative in Punjab province, Pakistan, on key dimensions of equity, education quality, and democratic and social accountability. It was conducted over a period of two months, through field visits in a sample of 31 schools across five districts of the province (in both rural and urban/slum areas) and all four programs run by the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF).

The study provides an in-depth view of how the sample schools are operating and are incentivized within the framework of the PEF programs, raising serious concerns about equity, quality, and accountability that need to be considered more broadly in the push to expand PPPs.