Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference, Hawaii, March 2006

Professor Keith M Lewin, Director of CREATE, made two presentations at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference in Hawaii,  14-18 March 2006:

  • Why Some Millennium Development Goals will not be Met: Access to Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  • Panacea or Problem? Does the Private Sector have a Role in Contributing to the Achievement of Education for All?

Why Some Millennium Development Goals will not be Met: Access to Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Professor Keith M Lewin, Centre of International Education, University of Sussex
Tuesday 14th March 2006, CIES Conference, Hawaii

Presentation Summary: Access to basic education lies at the heart of development and the eradication of poverty. Education is both a part of the definition of poverty and a means for its diminution. Sustained access is critical to long term improvements in productivity, the reduction of inter-generational cycles of poverty, demographic transition, preventive health care, the empowerment of women, and reductions in inequality. Two of the MDGs relate directly to education, and most are dependent on increased knowledge and skills distributed more equitably across the population.

The key problem we are addressing is how to increase access for those between the ages of 5 to 15 years through policy and programmes that are effective and financially sustainable, and which respond to the characteristics of those who are currently excluded. The numbers are large. Over 100 million children do not attend primary school and over 250 million are excluded from lower secondary. Even where primary gross enrolment rates exceed 100%, national data indicates that attendance may be below 70%, completion rates may fall below 50%, and fewer than 20% may attend lower secondary. Achievement data often show a minority acquiring basic learning competencies. The EFA Global Monitoring Reports indicate the scale of the challenge and lacunae in understanding.

Exclusion from basic education is a process culminating in an event with multiple causalities. We use the term ‘zones of vulnerability’ to describe the various spaces where cohorts of children are included, excluded, or are at risk of exclusion. Initial access has little meaning unless it results in (i) regular attendance (ii) progression (iii) secure learning (iv) and appropriate access to post-primary education. Children falling into these zones of vulnerability are the subject of our research, especially those falling into socially disadvantaged groups (e.g. girls, HIV/AIDS orphans, displaced people, ethnic minorities).

This paper presents some preliminary findings of comparative research being developed at the newly established Research Programme Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE), a five-year initiative of the Department for International Education of the UK government. It outlines some of the key conditions that will determine whether or not access to education will improve to meet the ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

See also:
Teacher Education - and
Science Education -
Secondary Schooling - and

Panacea or Problem? Does the Private Sector have a Role in Contributing to the Achievement of Education for All?

Keith M Lewin, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex
Friday 17th March 2006, CIES Conference, Hawaii

Presentation summary: This paper is concerned with the development of private and non-government educational services and the extent to which these can contribute to achieving higher levels of participation amongst the poor in developing countries. The case for greater involvement of non-government providers has been well rehearsed. It includes the possibilities that non-government agencies may be more efficient and effective than the State in delivering services, (as a result of competition and increased accountability to their clients), and that the more education is financed privately the more governments can concentrate scarce public resources on those in most educational need. These and other possible advantages are contested by those who argue that publicly financed provision is essential to reach the poorest, and that non-government providers are unlikely to address broader social and economic goals to which many governments are committed (e.g. more equitable provision), and that without effective regulation imperfect markets may result in malpractice, poor value for money, and regressive patterns of household financing of educational services where the poor pay relatively more than the rich.

Macro-economic development strategies advocated by some dominant development partners and embraced by many governments in SSA has encouraged liberalisation in educational service delivery. These are more permissive than in the past towards both for-profit and not-for-profit non-government providers. This has encouraged growth in the sector which, more often than not, has been weakly regulated, and unplanned. Many of the assumptions that have underpinned these approaches have been drawn from experience in rich and middle-income countries. Comparative analysis challenges the validity of these assumptions and places limits around the extent to which non-state providers can contribute to the Education for All agenda.

This research provides insights from two countries, South Africa and Malawi, on how non-state provision has developed, how the State has facilitated and regulated providers, and on the extent to which educational access has been extended to the otherwise excluded. Prospects for future expansion are assessed and the implications for equity, access and development towards Education for All are considered. The full\findings of the research will be published in  Lewin K M and Sayed Y (2006). Non Government Secondary Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa. Exploring the Evidence in South Africa and Malawi. DFID, London. Available at

See also:
Lewin K M et al Non State Providers of Basic Education in South Africa,
Lewin K M and Caillods F Financing Secondary Education in Developing Countries: Strategies for Sustainable Growth, International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris, 2001,

Contact Keith Lewin on:

Keith Lewin, 2006.