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Nigerian Education: The Needs and Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships
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Public-private partnership is a term coined in the 1990s. It is a concept utilized in the field of public procurement but has no clear clarification or definition. Van-Herpen defined a public-private partnership as a collaboration between the public and the private sector. Both sectors implement together a project based on an agreed division of labor, with each sector maintaining its own identity and obligations. `The underlying theme between this collaboration is that despite the public sector may be the one that is responsible for service delivery; it does not have to be the very entity to do the actual service. Moreover, public-public partnership is the participation of a private institution in the expertise, management, or monetary contributions in the project targeted for the benefit of the public.
Education is globally accepted to be the primary social activity through which society can duplicate tradition and forms of life that it considers to be desirable. Education is a tool that can be utilized to transform societal norms and tradition for the betterment of the socio-economic lives of its people. Moreover, education is a social and private investment that is collaborated by individuals, students, their family members, employers, government, and other international groups. Each country has its own sharing arrangement when it comes to allocating funds for both the public and private sector.
The Need for Public-Private Partnership in Education
Education is significant in the development of national goals. However, Nigeria has faced challenges in regards to inadequate funding, collapse of educational materials, enormous decay of all levels of education, low morale of teachers and professors, and poor educational materials and equipment. In connection with these challenges, the Nigerian government included the public-private partnership initiative as part of her agenda for the fulfillment of the country’s 2020 plan and to permit the participation of the private sector to correct the nationwide problem. This plan also targeted at improving the public sector’s quality of performance through private investment in cash and in kind especially where some responsibilities can be done best by private institutions. This concept of public-private ownership involves joint ownership. Moreover, it can also be utilized in the training and acquisition of skills in education. This can be further realized through joint ownership of the concession or venture, contracted or lease agreement. These contracted agreement forms could be among the four types: Rehabilitate-operate-transfer (ROT), Build-operate-transfer (BOT), Build-own-operate (BOO), and Build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT). This involves public-private partners are also being utilized to upgrade school facilities or build school infrastructure. The mechanism works by the government contracting a private firm to maintain or build a school building on a long-term basis, where the private firm assuming responsibility for the risk involved.
There are positive advantages for the pushing through of active public-private partnerships. These partnerships represent a combination of resources, attitudes, and mix of skills. If these are properly utilized these could aid in the actualization of total human resource development and utilization.
According to Patrinos et al. (2009), a public-private partnership in education can have four positive results. These are:
- Public-private partnerships can make the education market more competitive. Students from the private sector can compete with students that hail from the public sector. This will push the public sector to increase the quality of education that it provides.
- Public-private partnerships offer more flexibility than most arrangements in the public sector. There is less autonomy in the hiring of teachers in the public sector than those from the private sectors. These partnerships can be a prime mover in the supply and demand for education. Contracting of teachers can be one of the significant motivations for public-private partnerships.
- The government can decide which among the private providers to contract based on the requirements of the quality of education that it requires from the contractor. Moreover, there is an increased level of sharing risks between the public and the private sector. This enables the efficiency of the delivery of services that makes better provisions for the quality of education.
The involvement of the private sector in the public service for quality education in Nigeria brings positive developments. These include bringing in specialized skills that improve the management and operation of public schools. Governments will be able to absorb the demand of students in terms of increased standards of learning. Public-private partnerships can ultimate lead Nigeria to a better tomorrow by increasing the quality of education.