This report examines four not-for-profit school chains, run by non-governmental organisations in low-income contexts. These are Fe y Alegría, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (better known by its acronym BRAC), Gyan Shala and Zambia Open Community Schools.
These school chains have succeeded in reaching marginalised students and expanding access to hard-to-reach groups. The evidence also suggests that students enrolled in these school groups can outperform students in traditional government schools. Analysis by Education Development Trust provisionally points to some ingredients for success. These include strong social commitment; a high degree of autonomy from government control allowing adaptation to local need; strong accountability; highly effective resource management and investment in teacher training.
The scale of the challenges around access and quality of education in the global South, particularly for the most marginalised children and families, is vast. The availability of financial support globally to address this challenge is insufficient to meet the need. In this context, philanthropic, NGO-run, not-for-profit school groups appear to have a place in provision – be that in the short- or long-term.
The scale of the access and quality challenge requires a creative and inclusive approach to evidence collection. We believe that as educators, there is much we can learn from the systematic analysis of the work of effective schools of different types and the approaches and policies used by improving education systems. If we can learn something from the successes of these school groups, we should.