New study sheds light on low-fee private schools in Africa

When government-funded schools reach their limits, the private sector is stepping in. Abidjani private schools (in Cote d’Ivoire) are part of a mature and profitable market, but more resources for classrooms, new buildings, renovations, and facility development are needed.

A low-fee private school in Africa is not is not your typical Swiss boarding school at the shore of Lake Geneva. Electricity, safe drinking water, and toilets are not uniformly provided; computers and internet access are rare. The good thing is: they provide critical access to education and are affordable even to those on the poverty line – typically charging less than USD 25 per month.

While in developed countries private schools teach the elite, these private schools cater to a much bigger share of students in developing countries. Private education has, in fact, played a major part in decreasing the number of children without access to education, which according to UNESCO is currently estimated at 263 million children.

For example in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the 2,400 private schools represent almost half of all schools in the city. And new schools have opened at a rate of 7 percent per year for the past 20 years.

Our recently published research, “Banking on education,” highlights the market potential for private schools in Abidjan: The schools represent a $200 million market potential for financial institutions to extend credit. And they handle $153 million in cash transactions that could be captured. We’ve asked 150 schools in low-income districts in Abidjan, about their projections of market size and demand for finance for the private school sector.

Read the full story at UBS Optimus Foundation. 

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