Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Francine Menashy

Second Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Third Advisor

Carol Anne Spreen


One of the most contentious issues that elicits heated debates in the field of international and comparative education is the role of private actors in the provision of educational services using public monies. As the programmatic idea of public-private partnerships (PPPs) gains momentum internationally, educational PPPs has emerged as a key strategy in reducing educational and social inequities. Despite growing research evidence suggesting the contrary, the neo-liberal agenda of positioning PPPs as the best mechanism for achieving educational rights enshrined in international declarations and national constitutions continue to be perpetuated. Of particular relevance to this study is Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act of India (2009) which mandates 25% entry level seats be reserved for children from economically weaker sections (EWS) and disadvantaged groups (DG) in all private schools, reflecting the Government of India’s acceptance of PPPs as a viable alternative for failing public schools.

Through the pursuance of a policy initiative that promises greater choice and competition, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion, the Government of India proposes to harness the skills and expertise of the private sector to address issues such as school failure, achievement gaps, budget deficits, and inequities (social, economic, and spatial) affecting the public education system. Informed by the human rights-based approach, this study explored the availability of, accessibility to, acceptability and adaptability in schools, by examining whether this PPP fulfills the tenets of education as a human right. Using novel methodologies to investigate, this qualitative, vertical case study explored the multilinear and multi-sited flow of influence and policy ideas through the international, national, and sub-national levels, including their appropriation at private schools in Bangalore, India.

Evidence from the study suggests that this PPP fails to deliver on the multiple goals outlined in the RTE Act of India, 2009 and may not be in alignment with the human rights standards applicable to the right to education for all. Evidence also suggests that this PPP has not been successful in increasing access to equitable educational opportunities in private schools for the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. Furthermore, results from the study found the quality of education offered in private schools varied greatly due to a shortage in capital, physical, and human resources. Therefore, due to the lack of clarity in guidelines and apathy in implementation, it can be inferred that this PPP is highly ambiguous and can be viewed as a path towards privatization of public education.