One of the responsibilities of the government is to ensure the provision of the fundamental human right of its citizens. However, other parties can be involved especially in a country like Nigeria.
Increased private involvement can improve pedagogic, technical, and management skills across all levels of education. Additionally, its greater management flexibility means that private schools can easily introduce curricular and program innovations and improved assessment techniques. Some studies show that the learning outcomes in private schools are equal to or better than those of public school students.
Private schools appear to have a longer school day and school year, smaller class sizes, lower teacher absence, and extra time devoted to other subjects. Public education systems in many developing countries including Nigeria face a number of challenges. Curricula are often outdated; textbooks and other instructional materials are sometimes in short supply, and student/teacher ratios are well above desired levels, student retention rates and test scores are both low, among others. There is growing evidence that private participation in education can improve effectiveness in developing countries in a cost-effective manner and without compromising equity.
Parent involvement in a private school has also demonstrated to have positive effects on learning, teacher motivation, student attendance, etc., while active engagement results in families and communities holding schools accountable to a much greater degree. Indeed, research has consistently shown that when parents are involved in their children’s education, students do better. In this, fee-paying schools have an advantage that government schools do not – the fact that parents are free to choose or change their child’s private school means that there is a built-in accountability mechanism.
Whatever its apparent advantages, private sector engagement in education, nonetheless, requires a strong regulatory framework to ensure high-quality delivery and equity while at the same time encouraging investment and competition. Too often, regulation is poorly developed which leads to mushroom schools without any gain in educational quality. Indeed, enforced standards are key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the private education sector and its credibility in the market.
The way forward is an education system that acknowledges public and private providers and has accountability mechanisms to strengthen service delivery amongst the various education stakeholders.