Lowering the Cost of Secondary Education through Strategic Public-Private Partnerships: Evidence from the PEAS programme in Uganda

The need to pay school fees remains a challenge for many secondary students despite the existence of the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme in Uganda and its associated capitation grants. Due to the variety of income sources for secondary schools, the average expenditures between public and other schools differ markedly. This brief examines the drivers of secondary school expenditures and whether private schools delivering USE services offer an opportunity to reduce the overall cost of secondary education in Uganda. The brief is based on the analysis of costs of secondary education undertaken as part of the 3 year impact evaluation of the Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) programme in Uganda—implemented under a Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) arrangement. We find that government schools on average have a total expenditure of UGX 548 million per year and this is about 60 percent more than what is spent on average in non-government schools. The large differences in expenditures between public and other schools is primarily attributed to higher teacher salaries in government schools as well as the provision to teachers of several non-salary benefits like meals and rent for accommodation —paid from the school dues. As such, the estimated per student recurrent expenditure is highest for government schools at UGX 1.4 million compared to UGX 1 million and UGX 736,000 for PEAS and private schools respectively. As such, strategic partnerships between Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have the potential to significantly reduce the cost to households of sending their children to school.