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Privatisation has failed - How can public education systems be fixed? Exploring accountability and transparency

Sun, March 25, 8:30 to 11:30am, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 2nd Floor, Don Diego 4 Section B

Group Submission Type: Pre-conference Workshop

Description of Session

While there is a broad agreement that education systems, in particular in the Global South, face a number of challenges, and there is a growing acknowledgement that privatisation in education will not be able to solve these issues, what are the solutions that can be put forward to improve education governance? The increased involvement of private logics, models and actors has been shown to generally worsen, rather than improve, governance challenges in education. Along financing, one under-explored concepts and tools are accountability and transparency. This workshop will draw from recent research, in particular from the latest Global Education Monitoring report and the IIEP, to explore the potential of different forms of accountability and transparency to radically transform and improve public education. Participants will gain a practical understanding of accountability and transparency and jointly come up with concrete suggestions and research agendas to build an education reform vision to improve public education systems.

Proposal

Workshop organised by:
- Sylvain Aubry (Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
- Mireille de Koning (Open Society Foundations Education Support Program)
- Delphine Dorsi (Right to Education Initiative)
- Muriel Poisson (UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning)
- William C. Smith (Global Education Monitoring Report)

Rationale
One of the main arguments put forward by proponents of education privatisation is that the increased involvement of private-sector logics, models and actors in education is an effective response to deficiencies in the governance of public education in many countries. Weak governance leads to inefficiencies in public schools that make them too costly, limits innovation, and undermine equity, the argument goes. However, while there is broad agreement that many public education systems need dramatic improvements, the increased involvement of private actor has largely failed to address the very governance issues it was meant to tackle. In some countries, private provision has for instance further weakened the rule of law and increased corruption, while recent public private partnership interventions in education show the incapacity of private involvement to bring about meaningful cost efficiency and comprehensive quality.
It remains that education systems need to be improved, and solutions need to be found. One line of reflection is the need to increase financing. Without a major increase in funding, public education systems, in particular in the South, will be unable to provide quality free education for all. Increased financing must go along with an effective allocation of resources. This is not only a condition for improving efficiency and impact; the better use of funds is also a crucial tool to build and increase trust in systems in order to raise more funding, domestically and internationally.
To do so, a critical yet under-studied line of inquiry is to look at the various ways to increase accountability and transparency in public education. While these concepts are often mentioned and claimed by various actors, there has been relatively little attention and experiments in the last years to truly explore the potential of accountability and transparency to radically transform and improve public education systems. The 2017 report of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team, which will be launched later during the CIES conference, the increasing work of various bodies such as the UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) and civil society organisations focused on addressing transparency and corruption in countries in the global North and South, as well as the growing recognition that private actors are not the solution to education challenges globally, offer the necessary spaces and conditions to advance the reflection on the issue to the next level.

This workshop aims to:
- Unpack and provide a better understanding of the concepts and various forms of accountability and transparency;
- Interrogate the challenges of public education systems with regard to accountability and transparency;
- Explore and discuss the potential of accountability and transparency tools and mechanisms to provide solutions to the challenges faced by public education; and,
- Come up with concrete projects or research agendas to advance an understanding and application of these concepts.
At the end of the workshop, participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the concepts and different forms of accountability and transparency in education and how these can be operationalised in practice to address education challenges in different contexts. Specifically, it is expected that participants will develop initial ideas for research projects that may be further developed following the workshop.

Format: The workshop will consist of a series of interactive discussions and activities in small groups.
Duration and size: 3 hours, up to 50 participants.

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