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Private education and compliance with the Abidjan Principles

A study of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria


The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education were adopted on February the 13th, 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire by a group of leading human rights experts. 

The Abidjan Principles unpack and compile existing provisions in international human rights law and provide guidance on how to implement them in the context of the rapid expansion of private sector involvement in education. They underline States’ responsibility for guaranteeing adequate mechanisms to ensure that they are accountable for their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to education, including their obligations in the context of the involvement of private actors in education.
This report consolidates findings from what is arguably one of the first studies to use the Abidjan Principles to assess the impact of private provision on the right to education and therefore constitutes a pioneering example of their practical application. The research, which was led by Professor Elaine Unterhalter, of the Centre for Education & International Development at University College London Institute of Education, focusses on Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania, and was funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) as part of a 4-year project entitled Breaking Barriers, which aims to ensure all children, especially girls and marginalized children, have access to free, quality, publicly-funded, inclusive public education.
By using the Abidjan Principles as a framework for evaluating forms of private provision and giving attention to how this can be assessed in relation to states’ obligations as regards the right to education, the report assesses the extent to which governments in the four countries are faring with regards the provision of free, quality, inclusive public education.