Competition, Innovation and Change in Education Markets for the Poor in Developing Countries

From January 2007 to January 2009
Project Leader(s): James Tooley, Pauline Dixon, Sugata Mitra
Contact: James Tooley
Sponsors: Orient Global Foundation

The research builds on the work carried out during the John Templeton Foundation research project of 2003-2005. The proposed research encompasses three main components:

•Innovation and competition in education markets for the poor
•Longitudinal surveys of education markets for the poor
•New country study of education markets for the poor.

The Orient Global Foundation research (OGF) will be made up of 4 components:

Component 1: Innovation and competition in education markets for the poor
The first component of the research links the findings from the John Templeton Foundation/University of Newcastle ‘private schools for the poor’ project with those from the innovative World Bank/NIIT ‘Hole in the Wall’ research project that introduced the pedagogy Sugata Mitra dubbed 'Minimally Invasive Education' (MIE). Combining insights from both these research strands, we believe, can provide a sustainable and scalable solution to help overcome some of the impediments to improving educational quality for the poor.

There are four objectives:

1.To explore the educational efficacy of MIE Learning Centers situated in private schools for the poor, to improve learning outcomes, increase educational relevance and extend educational access.
2.To disseminate findings on educational efficacy of MIE Learning Centers in private schools for the poor to stakeholders, especially private school proprietors and associations.
3.To explore the potential sustainability and scalability of using private schools for the poor as vehicles for the implementation of MIE Learning Centers
4.To disseminate findings on sustainability and scalability and educational efficacy.

Component 2: Longitudinal studies:
The earlier research for the John Templeton Foundation presented a snap-shot of the situation pertaining in educational markets for the poor at a discrete moment in time, with comparisons of this market and state provision. This approach, necessary given time and resource constraints, however, left unanswered important questions about the nature of the educational market and its impact, including four that will become the research questions for this part of the research programme:

1.How does a private education impact on a child’s future educational and work destinations, compared to a state education?
2.How does a private education impact on children’s learning over time, compared to a state education?
3.Do children move between private and state schools, or drop out of school altogether? If so, why?
4.How does the private education market change over time, especially in terms of schools opening and closing?

Component 3: New country study
This will build on the research conducted during the John Templeton Foundation study in order to add data to that already collected concerning private and state education in developing countries. The earlier research successfully conducted studies in Ghana (Ga district), Nigeria (Lagos State), Kenya (Nairobi Province), India (Hyderabad, Mahabubnagar and Delhi) and China (Gansu Province). The final strand of the research programme will seek to replicate these earlier studies in one new country possibly in sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania.

Component 4: Dissemination of Results
An important part of the project will be disseminating widely the findings of the research components, as well as continuing to disseminate the findings of the earlier Templeton-funded research findings.


Professor Pauline Dixon
Professor International Development and Education

Professor Sugata Mitra
Prof of Educational Technology

Dr James Stanfield

Professor James Tooley
Professor of Education Policy