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Privatisation of Education in Francophone Countries: A Separate Case?

Wed, March 28, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 2nd Floor, Don Diego 1 Section D

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


Education privatisation has become an important topic in the global education agenda, particularly in the global South, where this phenomenon is increasing rapidly. Over the past years, a number of case studies have been conducted at the national level to assess the role and impact of the growing involvement of private actors in education. Together, these have contributed to a better understanding of this phenomenon, in terms of the types of private actors and arrangements, motivations and rationales behind its development, and implications for the enjoyment of the right to education in different contexts. The vast majority of these studies have, however, been undertaken in English-speaking countries, or published in English, limiting the scope of the assessment of this growing global trend.

To date there little knowledge about the scale and scope of private sector involvement in education in French-speaking - Francophone - countries, in particular in West Africa and Haiti. Initial research suggests that the private school phenomenon could be different in francophone countries, not only in terms of the specific types of private schools that are emerging, such as low-cost private schools called “borlettes” (Haiti) or “boutique” (Western Africa), but also their historical development, perceptions about the role of private schools and responses by different education stakeholders. The role of the States has also historically been stronger in many francophone countries, for example, the adoption of the Declaration of Antananarivo in November 2016 by 57 heads of States of the International Organisation of the Francophonie, which calls for the regulation of private actors in education, demonstrates a strong positioning on the issue in the region. Similarly, France’s recently adopted 2017-2020 strategy on education in its development cooperation stands out by its stated intentions to address the commercialisation of education. In addition, civil society mobilisation has been strong across the Francophonie, in particular through the joint statement issued by Francophone civil society organisations against commercialisation of education, that gathered the signatures of 302 civil society organisations in 38 countries. The Francophone space could thus have the potential to bring fresh perspectives on this issue to the global education debate, especially after Senegal and France decided to take a leading role globally by co-hosting of the Global Partnership for Education replenishment conference in February 2018, and a review of the dynamics within education systems in this space has become important.

The panel session will discuss preliminary research that is being undertake to assess the scope and impact of the growth of private operators in education in Francophone countries, presenting evidence from Mauritania and Haiti. Presentations will also provide an overview of the response of civil society in the West Africa region and perspectives on State policies in relation to this phenomenon. Combined the panel will offer insights into a region where education developments have largely been under-explored, in particular the growth of private actors in education, yet where a vibrant civil society has been mobilising to address this phenomenon and where important political developments have been shaping the education space.

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