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The REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge and EPG collaboration

Collaborations between the state (public) and non-state sector in education are widespread across developed and developing countries and economies. Such collaborations—such as contract schools, vouchers, and government subsidies—present a potential option for governments looking to improve the quality, access, or efficiency of national and sub-national systems of education through alternative mechanisms to public finance and delivery. However, it is important for reforms of this kind to be guided by evidence—such as evidence on the impact of such cross-sector collaborations on access and learning—particularly in regards to potential effects on disadvantaged groups and equity issues, such as poverty, gender, disability, or where a child lives.

While collaborations between the state and non-state sector in education are common practice, the 2017 publication—Public-Private Partnerships in Education in Developing Countries: a rigorous review of the evidence—commissioned by EPG, highlighted an urgent need for further robust research on the topic. As noted in the Review, ‘for all the controversy and cacophony around public-private partnerships in education, we actually have very few high-quality studies that quantify their impacts’ (Aslam, Rawal, and Saeed 2017, p.iii ).

To coordinate the research evidence already available, and to provide an evidence hub for the ongoing coordination of research on this important issue, Education Partnerships Group (EPG) and the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge are curating an online platform cataloguing the research evidence on collaborations between non-state sectors in education in low income, lower-middle and upper-middle income countries and economies (Downing & Rose, 2019).