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A Case Study of Private Schools in Kibera: An Update

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pauline Dixon, Professor James Tooley


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This article provides an update on our earlier paper on the introduction by the Kenyan government in 2003 of free primary education (FPE), and its impact on low-fee private schools. First, published papers that have used our contribution as a springboard for discussion are critically reviewed. The argument and supporting evidence that the poor are not making preferred choices for low-fee private schools, but are in fact ‘crowded out’ of government schools, are explored. It is suggested that this argument depends upon the assumption of poor quality in the low-fee private schools – lower quality than is found in government schools. This assumption is found not to be tenable, on the basis of evidence given, especially concerning pupil–teacher ratios (PTRs) and other input indicators. Second, an update is given on the data collected in 2003. Longitudinal evidence gathered in 2007, 4 years after our original data were collected, points to a dramatic increase in the number of private schools serving the slum of Kibera, Nairobi. In total 116 private schools now operate in the slum, with private school enrolment showing an increase of 130 per cent. On the important indicator of PTRs, these have increased by nearly 50 per cent in the government schools, giving an average of 88:1, compared to 28:1 in the low-fee private schools. The longitudinal findings and critical literature review are combined to suggest that low-fee private schools should be seen as partners in education for all; various ways in which international organisations are responding to the challenge of improving quality in, and extending access to, low-fee private schools are reviewed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dixon P, Tooley J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Educational Management, Administration and Leadership

Year: 2012

Volume: 40

Issue: 6

Pages: 690-706

Print publication date: 01/10/2012

ISSN (print): 1741-1432

ISSN (electronic): 1741-1440

Publisher: Sage Publications


DOI: 10.1177/1741143212456908


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