Mumbai public private partnerships in education: focus on quality

by on April 15, 2013

In March of 2013, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, approved a historic framework for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in education. This is the first time a municipal body has taken a public private partnership approach toward education with a focus on improving quality of education and measurement of learning outcomes. It is a pioneering opportunity for NGOs and other private educational providers to introduce innovations for quality education within government school system.

The objective of the PPP policy is to provide high quality education to children from the most economically under-privileged communities, through support from private organisations with expertise in education. The PPP policy lays out four categories of partnerships:

  • Category 1:  Full School Management with Teachers employed by Private Partners
  • Category 2:  Full School Management with Teachers employed by MCGM
  • Category 3:  Specific Services Partnerships (SSP) such as teacher and principal training, remedial education, assessment
  • Category 4:  School support for one-off contributions to a school

Currently there are 20 schools that are running in Mumbai under the Category 1 adoption mode, which is structured similar to charter school arrangements in the US and academies in the UK.  NGOs such as Akanksha, Muktangan, Aseema and 3.2.1 Foundation are operating schools where they are given space within government school buildings, receive some materials support for children including uniforms and books, but are responsible for the entire functioning of the school.   Till now, these NGOs had to raise 100% of the operating costs of the schools, including teachers salaries and curriculum development.

Under the new PPP policy, NGOs selected to run PPP schools under the whole school adoption model will be eligible to be reimbursed up to 60 percent of the total MCGM operating cost per child, which is currently approximately Rs. 25,000.  The reimbursement will be based upon performance of the students within the school, which will be measured by a combination of education outcomes assessments across the MCGM school system in classes 3 and 6, school observation and parental/community survey.

In line with international best practices, the policy has stringent requirements to select PPP partners.  The policy calls for the appointment of  a selection committee that consists of both senior government officials as well as reputed leaders from the private, NGO and education sectors.  The selection committee will screen PPP applicants using a well-defined selection rubric that accounts for experience, strength of leadership, innovative approaches and focus on measuring learning outcomes.

The Mumbai PPP policy, with its focus on learning outcomes and strict selection and reimbursement criteria, offers a model for PPP partnerships to the remainder of the country.  We already see PPPs emerging in other parts of India, including the central government’s 2500 rural model school PPP, and others in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab.

Our focus in the next year is to ensure the proper implementation of the PPP in Mumbai, so that it can truly become a model to demonstrate quality within the government system, and the role that civil society can play in fostering innovation.  It is important to not only demonstrate that these schools can exist as islands of excellence, but also have a vital role in improving the entire education ecosystem.