Contrasting Efficiency of Education Service Delivery in Public and Private Sectors

October 3, 2016

In developing countries, rising enrollments in schools coupled with poor learning outcomes have put the issue of accountability at the forefront of the debate about education policy. Governments are increasingly developing partnerships with the private sector to help meet the goal of providing quality education to all students, regardless of their financial background. This evaluation will look at efforts to improve teaching in publicly-funded schools through incentives and training for teachers, and compare the results to a similar program for teachers in government-run schools. 

Research area: Education

Country: Uganda 

Evaluation Sample: 280 schools

Timeline: 2013 - 2017

Intervention: Incentives; Feedback, Mobile phone

Researchers: Shwetlena Sabarwal, World Bank; James Habyarimana, Georgetown University; Felipe Barrera, Harvard University



In 2007, Uganda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to implement a universal secondary education program, and since then, enrollment has jumped by 400 percent. To accommodate the surge in student numbers, the Government began providing private schools with public financing. Despite the increasing importance of private schools, little analysis has been done on the quality of education service they deliver— including the area of teacher performance, a pressing problem in Uganda’s schools. The Ministry of Education and Sports is exploring ways to improve teaching in both public and private schools, by providing teachers with feedback, practical tips and rewards.

Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank


The evaluation will measure the impact of feedback and performance-based incentives on teacher and student performance in publicly-funded private schools. The findings will be compared with those from a similar public school initiative.

280 private schools in Uganda will be a part of the study sample and will be randomly assigned to four different groups: a control group that receives no intervention; a group that receives behavioral stimuli for teachers in the form of information about their performance, information about their classroom behavior, and concrete suggestions about classroom management—all delivered using cell phone technology; another group that receives performance-based incentives for teachers such as radios or mobile phones as rewards; and a third treatment group that receives the cell phone reminders, in addition to performance-based incentives.

The same teacher interventions are also being undertaken in public schools through a parallel SIEF-supported impact evaluation. The private and private sector evaluations will be fully harmonized to allow systematic comparisons between the two sectors and allow researchers to determine ways in which service delivery in the private sector contrasts with the public sector in Uganda. Researchers will also explore ways to influence teachers in the various contexts.