Education sectors the world over are facing a number of social, economic and policy challenges. Governments have responded – to varying degrees – to these challenges by introducing market-based policies that emphasize choice, managerial autonomy for schools and accountability for results. Contracting with the private sector for the delivery of ancillary services such as catering and school transport is relatively common in the education sector. A more recent trend has seen governments contracting with the private sector for the delivery of core education services. While such contracting is not widespread, there are a number of examples in operation in the United States and around the world.
This paper provides an overview of international examples of contracting with the private sector for the delivery of educational services, professional services and the provision of educational infrastructure. It also draws a number of tentative lessons from this international experience for the design and implementation of contracting in the education sector. A key conclusion is that there is little hard evidence available on the success or otherwise of contracting in education. Further research is required to determine the educational and other impacts of contracting in education.