The impact of public-private partnerships on private school performance: evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Uganda

Author(s): Barrera Osorio, Felipe; De Galbert, Pierre; Habyarimana, James; Sabarwal, Shwetlena

Date: 2016

Pages: 31 p.


We estimate the short-term impacts of a Public Private Partnership program on the performance of participating private secondary schools. The PPP program is part of a two-pronged strategy to absorb large increases in secondary enrollment following the introduction of the Universal Secondary Education initiative. Under the program, the government offers a per-student subsidy to participating low-cost private schools. Program implementation allowed for a randomized phase-in study design to estimate the causal impacts of the program on private school performance. While we find that the program successfully absorbed large numbers of eligible students in secondary schools, student performance in participating schools is significantly better. We find evidence both for increased input availability as well as positive selection of government aided students. Importantly, we don’t find any adverse impacts on the governance of participating schools. In addition, participation in the program improves the likelihood of school survival, an outcome with some implications for the efficiency of this form of private secondary school provision. These short-term impacts suggest that PPPs represent a viable policy option for Governments to help absorb rapidly increasing school enrollments in secondary education in developing countries.

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