Multi-country research on private education compliance with draft Human Rights Guiding Principles on States’ Obligations regarding Private Actors’ involvement in Education


The Tax, Privatisation and the Right to Education: influencing education financing policy project (the Hill’s project) is a multi-country education and tax justice project that brings together four countries (Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Pakistan) working towards a common goal, which is to ensure that all children have improved access to public education of a high standard, financed through greater government support and increases in fair tax revenue. The project is funded by private donors. A summary of the project can be found here.

The Breaking Barriers project is a four year, Norad-funded multi country project which seeks to address some of the key barriers that prevent children, especially girls and vulnerable children from enjoying their right to free, quality, inclusive public education in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania. Included in the barriers are: discrimination, inadequate financing and the proliferation of private, low-cost schools. The project’s objectives are structured around ActionAid’s 4S framework for education financing, emphasising the need to ensure that:

  1. Governments take actions to increase the SIZE of national budgets by raising fair tax
  2. Governments take actions to increase the SHARE of funds allocated to and spent on free, quality, inclusive public education
  3. Public education policies, systems and expenditure are SENSITIVE to the rights of girls and marginalised children
  4. A strong active movement of community and civil society structures effectively SCRUTINISE education budgets and expenditure and hold governments to account for the provision of free, quality, inclusive public education especially for girls and marginalised children

Through a combination of participatory local research and desk research at national and international levels, the ActionAid country offices involved in the two projects are committed to gathering evidence to support effective advocacy and campaigning for free, quality, inclusive public education – especially for girls, children with disability and other marginalised groups - including on the role of private providers in education.

At the same time, the Right to Education Initiative and other education stakeholders are working together to develop 'Human rights guiding principles on states' obligations regarding private actors' involvement in education’ (‘Guiding Principles’) that compile existing customary and conventional human rights law as it relates to the provision of education, including its delivery by private actors. The Guiding Principles are intended to be operational in and adaptable to different contexts and to provide a basis for advocacy, policy development, and litigation. Following extensive consultation, the guidelines are close to being finalised and will be formally approved by a prominent group of experts in February 2019.

Following the adoption of the Guiding Principles, an implementation roadmap will be put in place to ensure that they are not mere theory but lead to concrete implementation. The roadmap will explore at least five avenues that have already been identified throughout the consultation:

  1. Community-level awareness raising and mobilisation
  2. Political mobilisation through discussion and adoption at fora such as UNESCO, UN Human Rights Council, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, etc.
  3. Capacity building and technical support to States
  4. Research and academic dissemination
  5. Accountability mechanisms and litigation

The purpose of this piece of work is to complement the existing multi-country research on the education landscape in terms of private providers of education in a number of countries where ActionAid is working (Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania) and to provide a human rights analysis in light of the development – and forthcoming adoption – of the Guiding Principles. N.B. ActionAid International will use the same framework to conduct complementary research in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda and data from all 7 countries will be consolidated.

The Guiding Principles – together with its commentary referring each relevant provision of international law -  will provide the human rights framework for this research and for a series of recommendations for states and civil society in each country. The education laws and policies, as well as statistics and other qualitative data about the education system will be analysed from a human rights perspective in light of the Guiding Principles.

The draft commentary of the Guiding principles will be used to guide the research and analysis in each country from a human rights perspective. In addition, the use of the draft Guiding principles for the research will contribute to refining the wording of the principles where needed and reflect on the best way of implementing them after adoption on the basis of concrete cases. The final version of the Guiding Principles, as adopted in February 2019, will be mentioned/referred in the final report presenting each country studies.

It is expected that the research will build on existing research from the target countries, including evidence from ActionAid’s intervention areas (Local Rights Programmes) and national-level policy analysis which provide an overview of the current situation with regards to public and private provision of education and its impact on the right to education (especially for girls and other marginalised children). Where possible, the national education budget will also be analysed in light of the Guiding Principles.

However, the main purpose of the research will be to analyse the present state of private provision (and the regulation of that provision) in relation to the established standards laid out in the Guiding Principles with a focus on some of the most relevant principles, notably:

  1. Segregation/discrimination: potentially with a focus on particular groups, including girls, children with disability, people living in poverty) and looking at formal laws and policies as well as some statistics about practice
  2. Public education: assessing whether there are laws, policies, budgets and/or discourse that support public education in theory and in practice, mapping out the spread and concentration growth and location of private education providers over the last two decades
  3. Public Private Partnerships: analysing all laws and policies that constitute forms of public support to private actors and testing whether/to what extent they meet the criteria in the Guiding Principles
  4. Regulation: analysing laws and policies to see whether they meet the minimum threshold of the Guiding Principles and, where possible the extent to which these are being applied
  5. Financing: analysing the level of financial support being provided by the State (or donors) to private education providers as compared to the public sector; how much parents and families are paying for public/private education; what amounts are lost to harmful tax incentives and how could they be used to finance public education

Finally, the analysis will result in a series of concrete recommendations for improved legislation, implementation and practices to ensure national compliance with the right to education as explicated in the Guiding Principles.

This research will be used to improve understanding of the situation of education in each country and to support advocacy for the effective regulation of all education providers and the adequate financing of free, quality, public education.

Initial findings based on the draft guiding principles will be shared during the Adoption Meeting of the Human Rights Guiding Principles likely to be held in Côte d’Ivoire or Senegal in February 2019. This will be a 3-day meeting during the week of the 11th to the 15th of February, which will convene experts to formally adopt the principles. Reflections and commentary in the lead up to the adoption meeting will inform the final text of the principles.

ActionAid and RTE will contribute to the organisation of a 2 or 3-day Strategy Meeting immediately after the Adoption Meeting which will bring together civil society organisation members of the Secretariat of the Guiding Principles and of the Privatisation in Education and Human Rights.

The report will be adjusted after the final adoption of the Guiding Principles.


The main audience for this piece of work include:

  •        National education stakeholders, CSOs, policy-makers, decision-makers and authorities in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.
  • Global-level civil society organisations (development and human rights sectors), donors and policy-makers.
  • GPE, World Bank, EFA 2030 SC, UNESCO GEM Report etc will also be important audiences.
Approach and methodology

The study will mainly involve secondary desk research focussing on current legislation and policy in each country and building on existing research including academic literature, research carried out by civil society organisations, and reports from Phase 1 of the two projects.

Some research has already been carried out on the privatisation situation in each of the countries (see links below). This will need to be reviewed carefully by the consultant to establish what value can be added by this study, what the gaps are and what information needs to be updated or amended. This review will be done in light of the Guiding Principles. 

The following project documents will be of relevance:

  1. One international report (see suggested outline below). This will have separate sections for each country which will be used to build understanding and support advocacy at local, national and international levels. Where possible, the report will recommend practical actions that could be taken in each country. These might include community reports, parallel reports, or litigation cases, depending on the context.
  2. Draft 2-4 page paper providing advice and comments on the draft Guiding Principles and the potential means for their implementation on the basis of the countries analysis.

A suggested format for the report follows below:

1. Executive summary

Overview of the issues and trends emerging across all the countries.

2. Introduction to Guiding Principles

3. Country report – for each country

  • Introduction - summary of country situation, trends, recommendations, etc.
  • Box with key facts
  • What forms of private actor involvement occur in education?
  • What is the State policy?
    • Review of policy and legislation relating to private actors in education and the extent to which this is effectively implemented.
    • Extent to which public funds are being used to support private (especially commercial) education providers.
    • An analysis of the present state of private provision (and the regulation of that provision) in relation to the established standards laid out in the Guiding Principles.
    • An analysis of the financing of education, in particular State financing of private/public education; costs families have to pay to send their children to private/public education; comparison of amounts lost to corporate tax incentives and how these could be used to finance public education (esp. for girls/marginalised children)
    • An outline of the implications of this assessment for the fulfilment of human rights
    • Conclusion and recommendations for governments, civil society, etc.

 4. Conclusion and recommendations

Overall conclusion and recommendations for stakeholders, governments and international actors, in light of the Guiding Principles.

Roles and Responsibilities

This piece of research will be conducted in collaboration between ActionAid International and the Right to Education project and led by a consultant and the Research and Advocacy Coordinator for the Hills Project, working in close cooperation with ActionAid offices. Further details provided below:

Right to Education Initiative:

  • In collaboration with the consultant and AAI, lead on the development of the research framework, questions and tools
  • Lead in the provision of technical feedback on draft reports
  • Ensure publications are ready in time for dissemination in February 2019
  • Lead on the dissemination of the findings
  • Lead on the design of the 2-3 day event to discuss operationalisation of the Guiding Principles

ActionAid International:

  • In collaboration with the consultant and RTE, contribute to the development of the research framework, questions and tools
  • Provide feedback on draft reports including liaising with country programme team for information and feedback as needed
  • Coordinate design and layout of final reports
  • Support the dissemination of the findings
  • Support the facilitation of the 2-3 day event to discuss operationalisation of the Guiding Principles


  • Produce a brief inception report confirming understanding of the task and outlining methodology, time-frame and budget
  • Work with RTE and AAI to design the research framework, questions, methods and tools
  • Draft the overall multi-country report using agreed research framework, questions, methods and tools (submit at least 2 drafts before finalisation)
  • Draft 2-4 page paper providing advice and comments on the draft Guiding Principles and the potential means for their implementation in light of the countries analysis.
  • Finalise the report to take into account discussions/input once final Guiding Principles are adopted




ActionAid is looking for a qualified and experienced consultant, or team of consultants with a background in education or right to education and experience of social research, who will be able to provide essential technical input throughout key stages of this project.


  1. Advanced Degree in the field of Education, Human Rights, Social Research or another relevant Social Science subject.
  2. Understanding of issues related to human rights, especially the right to education as well as current discourse around privatisation of education and education financing and the link with tax policy.
  3. Experience of secondary research and legal/policy analysis and proven track record of relevant research in one or more of the project countries.
  4. Experience of working with international NGOs.
  5. Excellent communication skills with the ability to tailor communications to a range of audiences.
  6. Fluency in written and spoken English.


  1. Experience of working with ActionAid and understanding of/familiarity with the organisation’s human rights-based approach to research and advocacy on education financing, tax and privatisation
  2. Fluency in another relevant language (e.g. Portuguese, Nepali, Chichewa, Kiswahili etc.)
Selection Process

Candidate selection will be based on the following criteria:

  1. The ability to respond to and meet the essential and desirable specifications outlined in this term of reference
  2. Demonstrated capacity to undertake the type of services sought
  3. Relevant academic and professional qualifications and experience
  4. Proposed budget and schedule

We invite interested candidates to submit the following application documents:

  • A copy of the CV or CVs of the consultant or consultants who will be assigned to conduct the work
  • A  brief technical proposal (max 4-6 sides of A4) detailing

a) how the consultant/s meet the selection criteria

b) their understanding of the Terms of Reference

c) financial proposal

d) availability

  • A sample of relevant reports or publications
  • Contact details of 2 independent referees

Please send your applications to:

Asmara Figue, International Project Coordinator at:


The deadline for applications is: 20th October 2018