Open Society Institute, call for Expressions of Interest, for investigating dimensions of the privatisation of public educ in Africa, E Asia, S & SE Asia

crosslisted from Peace and Collaborative Development Network
For more information see

for investigating dimensions of the privatisation of public education in Africa, East Asia, South Asia and South-East Asia

Background information

The changing dynamics of education in most countries over the last thirty years obscures an understanding of how the requirements of human rights and economic and social justice are to be met under the new and increasingly pervasive conditions of private, public and private-public provision in education. The Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) is a multi-annual global initiative supported by the Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute that seeks to contribute to a better understanding on whether, through what mechanisms, with what outcomes, and for whom the increasing adoption of a widening range educational service regulation and delivery mechanisms might lead to more effective and equitable education systems.

PERI has two key objectives: first to animate an accessible and informed public debate on the relative merits and demerits of alternative education provision that leads to informed choice by governments and parents. To this end, PERI will create a non-partisan platform through which different normative, theoretical and empirical positions on the privatization of a range of education services can be debated. Second, to centralize a social justice lens through which to debate the consequences of changes in the coordination of education services. This will be achieved through a twin-track approach of scholarly research and media work, which will be accessible through the PERI website - - that will also feature discussions, forums and other resources.

PERI aims to:
Raise concerns by contributing to the better understanding of the fundamental change in the nature of public education under conditions of de-regulation, de-centralisation, de-nationalisation, privatisation and competitive tendering of public functions in education.
Enhance knowledge by undertaking critical case-based and comparative empirical analysis of distributed educational service delivery in the case of compulsory schooling, especially focusing on the desirability of state provision under conditions of market failure, complex agency problems, and the challenges faced by input-based policy.
Support new research by funding in-depth analysis and collection of new empirical data providing insights into the ways in which the interplay among different local, national and international educational agents acting in multi-level, often interdependent institutional structures, with different and sometimes conflicting interests, shape the quality of compulsory educational service regulation and delivery.
Expose the controversy of privatization by making accessible the competing views advanced and advocated by different institutional actors at the global, regional, national and local levels, centralizing a social justice lens in the debate, and describing the manners in which alternative provision of education services have pervaded different spaces.

PERI research focus
Observers agree that private provision and the privatizing of education services not only looks different in different regions and countries of the world, but that these services are shaped by a different set of dynamics between the global and the local, and between the state, economy, civil society and religious organizations. For this reason, this expression invites proposals for research on the privatization of education or private provision of education that are focused on one or more countries in the following regions: Africa, East Asia, South East Asia and South Asia. Regional and comparative studies between countries within and across regions are also welcome. This expression has a broad understanding of the term 'private' ranging from schools run by local entrepreneurs, NGOs, local community provision to madrassas.

Expressions will address one or more aspects of the coordination (or governance) of education services in the formal (schooling) and/or the informal (shadow schooling, home tutoring) sector. PERI views the governance of education as involving the aspects of: (i) funding; (ii) provision; (iii) infrastructure and ownership; and, (iv) regulation. For instance, what is the role of the private sector in developing new education infrastructures? What is the relationship between the state and the private sector in these arrangements, and how is each influenced or shaped by the other?

PERI is particularly interested in proposals that also problematize and examine the underlying dynamics in the privatizing of education, including the range of new and old actors and their motivations. For instance, what is the role of parental expectations for education as a means of social mobility? To what extent is an emerging middle class and their concerns with education as a form of cultural and social capital an important factor? Why do parents choose low-cost schooling when there are state-funded alternatives? Why do teachers work for significantly lower wages in the low-fee sector? What are the implications of creating a competitive market in education where parents and students are viewed as consumers of education services? What is the role of global and local actors (multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the IFC; private consulting agencies; bilateral aid agencies; local entrepreneurs etc) in these processes? Are EFA goals the target of initiatives, and are these goals being realized? What are the implications for teaching and learning of these developments of opening up formal and informal education to commercial interests?

A central concern of this expression is social justice in education. Thus, all proposals are requested to address the social justice issues arising from the different forms of privatization that they are examining. For instance, which groups are included (and who are excluded and with what consequences) in these privatizing initiatives (female, male, ethnicity, caste, religion etc)? What are the social conditions for learning or teaching, and do they prioritize and address social equity? What are the wider social consequences of these privatizing initiatives; do they build or reduce social cohesion? Are these initiatives critical components of building a democratic and accountable community with the potential to enhance the idea of an open society?

In its first two-year phase, PERI seeks to commission up to twenty pieces of research. Proposals that focus on the primary and/or secondary sectors will be prioritized, however proposals will be considered which address these issues in the higher education sector that have implications for schooling, such as teacher training. It is intended that additional funding will become available in 2012 and lead to a further call for proposals.

Envisioned key activities, conditions and requirements
Commissioned proposals will be:

Overseen by a member of the PERI Steering Committee and relevant ESP staff.
Presented in draft form at relevant regional conferences in August 2011, which will include a publishable 500 word summary.

Completed by December 2011, following blind external review

Presented at a global conference in July 2012.
Within a 10,000 word limit.

Within a budget of $17,000-$25,000.

Authors retain intellectual property of the work but, if selected, agree to have it published on the PERI website and in an edited collection of essays.

Application procedure
All applications should be submitted by 12:00 GMT on 15th October 2010 and include the following:
A covering letter indicating the potential significance of the research
A Curriculum Vitae
Two writing samples either written or translated into English
A proposed research design of no more than 2000 words that includes research questions, methodology, timeframe, ethical considerations and outputs.
Send an electronic copy of the documentation, including a scanned copy of the Cover Letter, to Laura Thorogood (lthorogood (at) and Ian Macpherson (ian.macpherson (at) For further information, please contact Ian Macpherson or see

Selection Criteria
Applications submitted with all required documentation will be reviewed by a panel committee. Commissions will be granted according to the panel's assessment and selected applicants will be notified by the 29th October 2010.

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