Key Points:

  • Contract schools are publicly funded and/or owned but privately managed schools. Contract schools mostly cater to disadvantaged, low-income communities and so fill an important gap in the education sector.
  • South Africa has only fully public and wholly private (independent) schools; there are no contract schools or any other form of public-private education partnerships in South Africa.
  • The country’s education sector is afflicted by a serious crisis. Providing quality education to the poor is top national priority.
  • International research shows that not only can contract schools deliver schooling as cheaply as public sector schools, but they often offer better education for the poor, too. These achievements stem from strong accountability and oversight processes.
  • South Africa’s efforts to reform schooling have been too narrowly focused – international trends for diversified and decentralised schooling opportunities have largely been ignored. Adding to school choice widens the education delivery spectrum, allowing more high-quality education to reach the poor.