Implications of COVID-19 for Low-Cost Private Schools

Issue Brief | What are the current and future impacts of COVID-19 on LCPS operators, teachers and students, the spillover effects on public schools, and the factors that make LCPS vulnerable to shocks?


At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures disrupted the education of approximately 1.5 billion students in over 190 countries – 1 in 4 of whom were enrolled in private schools. The economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit low-cost private schools (LCPS) especially hard. LCPS have found themselves under significant financial stress; teachers have reported losing their jobs, having their salaries cut, or not being paid at all. Thousands of LCPS have already shut down, and thousands more are on the brink of permanent closures. LCPS also struggled to provide remote learning support to their students, and the likelihood of extensive learning losses among returning students is significant.

This education market disruption poses a risk to the continuity of learning for millions of children, especially those from households at the bottom of the pyramid, who are more likely to attend low-cost private schools than high-fee private schools. Governments have stewardship of the whole education system, not just public schools; therefore, any public policy that does not mitigate against COVID-induced risks to private provision will be incomplete. This brief provides an overview of the scope of this education market disruption, particularly its implications for LCPS operators, learners and teachers, as well as the spillover effects on public schools. The brief also examines the underlying factors that affect the resilience of LCPS to shocks, and concludes with some key policy considerations for the short- and medium-term.

Andaleeb Alam and Priyamvada Tiwari
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