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Pearson: A case study of
corporate-led privatizations and
profiteering in education in Ghana
Curtis B. Riep
The 58th Annua...
Outline
• Why study the worlds largest multinational education
corporation?
• What are the roles, strategies, and impact o...
Why study Pearson?
• largely absent from education policy analysis and
comparative and international education studies
• i...
―We think education will turn out to be the great growth industry
of the 21st century‖ - John Fallon, chief executive of P...
What are the roles, strategies, and impact of
Pearson in privatizing the education sector?
• public-private partnerships (...
public-private partnerships
For example, Pearson has established PPP agreements with:
• Bhutan
• Brazil
• Chinese Ministry...
Global Partnership for Education (GPE) /
Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Ed)
―When the business community spe...
Pearson Affordable Learning Fund
(PALF)
―At Pearson, Michael
and his colleagues
founded the Pearson
Affordable Learning
Fu...
Omega Schools Franchise
edu-preneur
James Tooley
―The Pearson Affordable
Learning Fund reinforces
our commitment to
tackli...
Omega Schools Franchise
business/teaching/learning model
• Efficiency
• Standardization of services
• Pay-as-you-learn
Efficiency
Means serving the largest amount of students
at the lowest possible cost.
The main source of cost saving has co...
Standardization of Services
the per
• ‗school-in-a-box‘ franchising approach
• uniform products or outcomes
• scripting em...
“pay-as-you-learn”
• This ―innovative all-inclusive no hidden cost daily fee
payment system, ensures that we rope in a lot...
Why do you think Pearson invested
in Omega Schools Franchise?
―Obviously, it‘s a very interesting space—the low-fee educat...
Building new markets at „the bottom of the pyramid‟
Global Economic Pyramid
* based on purchasing power parity in US$ Sour...
access, equity, affordability
To determine if Omega Schools can be expected to significantly
expand initial access to the ...
―Unfortunately, the private schools that are coming on
board are clustered in urban centers. This is because
those low cos...
• Omega Schools is initiating plans to expand its franchise
beyond Ghana and into West African markets including Sierra
Le...
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Pearson a case study of corporate led privatizations and profiteering in education in Ghana

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This presentation examines Pearson plc, a leading multinational education company, and how it is privatizing the education sector.

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Pearson a case study of corporate led privatizations and profiteering in education in Ghana

  1. 1. Pearson: A case study of corporate-led privatizations and profiteering in education in Ghana Curtis B. Riep The 58th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 14, 2014
  2. 2. Outline • Why study the worlds largest multinational education corporation? • What are the roles, strategies, and impact of Pearson in privatizing the education sector? • The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund and Omega Schools Franchise in Ghana • Implications for future research
  3. 3. Why study Pearson? • largely absent from education policy analysis and comparative and international education studies • it is less well known than other international actors that affect national education systems, ie. World Bank, OECD, UNESCO • it has the potential to affect national education systems through a variety of business activities and capital accumulation strategies that are advancing the scope of privatizations in education
  4. 4. ―We think education will turn out to be the great growth industry of the 21st century‖ - John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson Source: Pearson Annual Reports and Accounts, 2012
  5. 5. What are the roles, strategies, and impact of Pearson in privatizing the education sector? • public-private partnerships (PPPs) • global partnerships for development • Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) and Omega Schools Franchise in Ghana
  6. 6. public-private partnerships For example, Pearson has established PPP agreements with: • Bhutan • Brazil • Chinese Ministry of Education • Italy • South Africa‘s Western Cape Province • 45 state governments in the US • Abu Dhabi Education Council with UAE PPPs in education are ―contractual relations between the government and private providers to acquire education services of a defined quantity and quality at an agreed price for a specified period‖ (Verger 2012, p. 116).
  7. 7. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) / Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Ed) ―When the business community speaks with one voice, politicians listen, and so the Global Business Coalition for Education will pressure governments in the developed and developing world alike to do more to deliver education for all. GBC-Ed delegations will visit key target countries, like Ethiopia, India and Nigeria, to meet Presidents, Prime Ministers and other senior figures, encourage them to prioritise education, and explore how the skills and resources of businesses can be of assistance.‖ (GBC-Ed website)
  8. 8. Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) ―At Pearson, Michael and his colleagues founded the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, a for-profit venture fund, in response to the vital market and government need for low-cost private education in the developing world.‖ (PALF website)policy edu-preneur Michael Barber Source: www.affordable-learning.com/what-is-affordable-learning/Whyafund.html
  9. 9. Omega Schools Franchise edu-preneur James Tooley ―The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund reinforces our commitment to tackling the educational needs of the world‘s poorest regions, to experiment with new approaches to low cost learning, and to demonstrate to how a for- profit approach can scale and solve education in developing countries.‖ (PALF website) Source: http://www.wise-qatar.org/content/omega-schools
  10. 10. Omega Schools Franchise business/teaching/learning model • Efficiency • Standardization of services • Pay-as-you-learn
  11. 11. Efficiency Means serving the largest amount of students at the lowest possible cost. The main source of cost saving has come as a result of the exploitation of teachers‟ labour. • The monthly wage for an Omega School teacher ranges between 130 and 150 GHC (equivalent to $65 and $75 per month or $2.95 and $3.40 per day)—this is only 15- 20% of what teachers in the public sector make in Ghana.
  12. 12. Standardization of Services the per • ‗school-in-a-box‘ franchising approach • uniform products or outcomes • scripting employee behaviors and interaction with customers Omega Schools has ―…developed lesson plans for the teachers because ideally it takes a very experienced teacher to be able to structure the lesson and design a lesson plan to be able to deliver the needed effect and we don‘t have that luxury. We can‘t get experienced quality teachers in the schools so what we‘ve done is hired experienced teachers to write out those lesson plans at the head office and then give them to the schools so that our teachers can read them and just deliver them.‖ (Ken Donkoh, co-founder of Omega Schools
  13. 13. “pay-as-you-learn” • This ―innovative all-inclusive no hidden cost daily fee payment system, ensures that we rope in a lot more lower-income families who otherwise may not be able to afford bulk term fees‖ (Omega website). • ―since the poor earn on a daily basis we must develop a payment system that allows them to pay on a daily basis.‖ (Ken Donkoh, co-founder of Omega Schools) • Families pay a fee of 1.50 GHC (equivalent to $0.75) per child per day • ―I sell water on the streets one day so I can go to school the next.‖
  14. 14. Why do you think Pearson invested in Omega Schools Franchise? ―Obviously, it‘s a very interesting space—the low-fee education space is quite interesting. It‘s a huge market. It‘s getting more and more interesting. It‘s also a way that Pearson can really make an impact by helping the poor and helping low-income communities also get a better education...I think the low-fee sector has made a very strong statement – that yes, it is possible that the private sector can also educate the poor. I think that Pearson wants to be involved in these things. So I think that‘s the key thing. There‘s huge wealth at the ‗bottom of the pyramid‘ as they put it. So who knows? Maybe in a few years to come it will be a very viable market. But I think for now they are driven by the fact that they want to be involved in this space, they want to support, they want to bring quality. In a way help achieve, if not even achieve, we get closer to the Millennium Development Goals…I think that the reason why Pearson set-up the Affordable Learning Fund, the Fund that invested in us, is not to make a short-term return, but instead to develop the market, develop the market to maturity.‖ (Ken Donkoh, co-founder of Omega Schools)
  15. 15. Building new markets at „the bottom of the pyramid‟ Global Economic Pyramid * based on purchasing power parity in US$ Source: UN World Development Reports ‗Bottom of the pyramid‘ (BOP) strategies see the poor as an untapped market where multinational corporations can provide low cost services, such as education, on a for-profit basis, while also working towards poverty alleviation by creating more ‗poor-friendly‘ market systems.
  16. 16. access, equity, affordability To determine if Omega Schools can be expected to significantly expand initial access to the ‗last 10%‘ of students in Ghana who still remain excluded from basic schooling, a sample was taken of 437 pupils across four different Omega schools. Only 1 out of 437 students questioned said that Omega was the first school they attended. • Families with an average household income in Ghana (1,217 GHC) would pay approximately 25% of annual household income to send 1 child to an Omega School • Lowest-income families (728 GHC) would pay approximately 40% of annual household income to send 1 child to an Omega School Omega Schools are not ―low-fee‖, ―budget‖ or ―affordable‖ options for the poorest families in Ghana
  17. 17. ―Unfortunately, the private schools that are coming on board are clustered in urban centers. This is because those low cost or low fee private schools do it as a business enterprise, so they go to communities that can afford to pay. So those children in the villages, in the remote areas—what will be their fate?‖ (Director of Private Schooling, Ghana Education Service)
  18. 18. • Omega Schools is initiating plans to expand its franchise beyond Ghana and into West African markets including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and the Gambia. With plans to grow too as many as 340 schools with 200,000 students by 2020. • Omega Schools Franchise is the first investment made by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. It is expected that more joint ventures and investments in chains of low-fee private schools will be announced by Pearson in the coming months - to further develop a global market for low-fee private schooling. • Who ‗wins‘ and who ‗loses‘ in these corporate-led privatizations in education? Implications for future research

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