Summary: This study highlights the need for much more detailed attention to the cost of schooling incurred by parents and communities. In some societies these costs are greater than even the costs to governments. Quite apart from overt forms of privatization, the growth of household resourcing of public education has been a hidden form of privatization of enormous influence. This study presents empirical findings, and primarily focuses on nine East Asian countries -Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam -although clear parallels can be drawn with experiences in some other parts of the world. While patterns are far from uniform, one striking feature from this study is that costs to households have increased in long-standing capitalist countries as well as in former socialist countries. The scale of the increase varies widely, but it is significant that in these countries there is an increase at all. The study concludes that governments seeking to achieve universal primary education and expanded enrollments in secondary education must consider the costs and benefits at the household level. Their resulting policies must focus not only on supply but also on demand for education. Included in demand will be complex considerations of the quality and the price of education. When assessing the cost side of the equation, policy analysts must count the full cost -not only to governments, but also to parents and communities- and not only the monetary costs of donated labor, materials, and land.
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