Government and Nongovernment Provision of Primary Education in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal

Evaluation Document | 31 January 2003

This evaluation examines whether nongovernment schools perform better than public schools in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal.

This evaluation examines whether the expectations about private provision of primary education and decentralization have proven to be realistic. Three DMCs—Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal—are selected as case studies as they have been recipients of ADB loans for primary education and have had significant nongovernment provision of primary education.

It is hoped that the study findings will enhance the effectiveness of ADB’s contributions to human development and poverty reduction through more effective assistance for primary education. The study examines whether (i) nongovernment (non-profit and for-profit private) schools in the three DMCs perform better than public schools, including those supported by ADB; (ii) parents of students in these schools pay more than parents of students in public schools, thus reducing the government’s financial burden; and (iii) decentralization of public provision in the three DMCs contributes to reducing the financial burden of the central government.


  • A long-term, holistic program framework should be developed during the project preparatory stage to conceptualize how the government and nongovernment, general and religious, and formal and nonformal schooling systems interact; and how they should complement or supplement each other to address the problems of access, equity, quality, efficiency, and institutional and financial capacity. 
  • More resources should be put into bringing the hardest-to-reach children to school and retaining them there. Better targeting is thus needed at the project design stage to reach poorer children, regardless of the type of school they attend.
  • The software side should be adequately covered during project design to improve quality, efficiency, and institutional capacity, particularly at the school level, by empowering school management committees with legal provision, budget, and training. 
  • Since the success of SBM depends on participation and understanding of the role and responsibilities of other local bodies (i.e., the local government, communities, schools, and parents), these groups should be included in capacity strengthening efforts. 
  • As the quality and efficiency of the education system depend largely on financingof schools, financial norms for project schools should be established at the design stage to at least maintain a minimum acceptable level of per student recurrent expenditure as well as a proportion of school recurrent expenditure on non-salary items; this should be monitored during implementation to ensure that no school is underfinanced. 
  • To ensure long-term project impacts and financial sustainability, necessary concomitant policy changes should be introduced during the processing stage through dialogue with the government, together with appropriate loan covenants.


  • Executive Summary
  • Maps
  • I. Background
  • II. Current Status of Primary Education in Project Countries
  • III. Assessment of Overall Primary Education in Project Countries
  • IV. Assessment of Government and Nongovernment Provision of Primary Education in Project Countries
  • V. Main Findings, Key Issues, Lessons Learned, and Recommendations
  • Appendixes