Public-private partnership in education pushed | Inquirer Business

Public-private partnership in education pushed

/ 02:02 AM February 17, 2023

Meekyung Shin, Chito Salazar, Kavita Rajagopalan and Ramon del Rosario Jr.—CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

If public and private sectors can build infrastructure together, perhaps they can also successfully collaborate in building that most basic foundation needed to improve people’s lives—education.

This was the message delivered at the recent Private Education toward Nation Building Forum organized by Phinma through its educational arm, Phinma Education. The forum was attended by over 150 education stakeholders.


Main speakers Kavita Rajagopalan, program director of Global Schools Forum (GSF), and Meekyung Shin, education specialist for higher education at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), both promote the idea of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to make access to education at all levels universal, safe and equitable.

The idea dovetails with the concept championed by Ramon del Rosario Jr., chair and CEO of Phinma Corp., a Filipino conglomerate with interests in education, steel, housing, cement and hospitality businesses.


Del Rosario maintains, “The business of business is not just making profits but also uplifting the lives of people.”

In underscoring the need for partnerships, collaboration and complementation in education, Rajagopalan says “the learning crisis is real and enormous.” She adds that “millions of children reach young adulthood without the most basic skills.”

The GSF official cites a World Bank study that found that about 70 percent of 10-year-olds are now in a state of learning poverty, unable to read and understand a simple text.

Private schools, she says, could help provide equitable access to education and bridge the gap in access, particularly for the most marginalized learners.

In India, her home country, an increasing number of children are being educated in nonstate schools, hence, her stress on the important role the private sector could play in easing access to education.

She also points out that more than 80 percent of educational innovations originate from nonstate schools, which make them even more significant players in programs to liberate people from ignorance and poverty through education.


Private educational institutions are “powerful partners” for driving innovation, Rajagopalan says, thus, their partnership and collaboration could help end the learning crisis. Government and the private sector can work together for a better, stronger, more efficient and effective educational infrastructure.


Public and private partnerships can be built and scaled to bring their benefits to more learners, she says.

Like Rajagopalan, Shin calls attention to how the private sector can contribute and generate innovations but in higher education. She stresses the importance of harnessing PPPs in higher education to raise its standards and quality and make it a more effective tool in improving lives.

“Successful countries have demonstrated the importance of higher education in developing higher levels of [knowledge] and skills,” she says. “Higher education institutions are vital in preparing highly skilled workers and [to] support research and development of new technologies.”

Equity in higher education, she stresses, is critical for social mobility and in promoting entrepreneurship, as well as for jobs placements.

“Private education plays a critical and complementary role in improving access, quality and relevance of higher education,” the ADB education specialist adds.

In his opening remarks, Del Rosario notes how, despite increases in public spending in education, the Philippines “continues to perform poorly in international standardized student assessments. This is a clear indicator that we have much to do and increasingly little time to do it.”

He says the private sector can contribute in changing the situation. “Private education institutions can complement the public sector in improving the quality of education in the country,” he points out.

Chito Salazar, president and CEO of Phinma Education, also emphasizes that “there should be complementarity between private and public sectors.” The private sector could augment and supplement education services and facilities in public institutions, for instance.

“This is so the government will not need to build or produce new schools. The public and private sectors need to work together to really maximize our efforts, facilities and resources to solve the learning crisis,” Salazar adds.

The speakers agree that various types of PPPs can be implemented in the education sector to address the serious learning crisis.

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