5 Low-Cost Private School Chains You Need to Know

Calla McCabe

Over the last few years, there has been a growth in the number of private primary schools that charge relatively low fees. Low-cost private schools (LCPS) are alternative systems that can be found in the majority of developing countries, many of which have a recommended public policy to provide free public education. They aim to provide quality education at an affordable price through various unique models, each aiming to build a sustainable enterprise while serving the poor.  Below are 5 LCPS chains that are profiled on the CEI database and have been highlighted here due to their unique focus areas, strong track record and rapid expansion.

Omega Schools- Omega Schools is a chain of more than 20 low-cost private schools located in the Greater Accra and Central regions of Ghana, serving approximately 12,000 students in nursery through Junior High School. It is the only chain of low-cost private schools in West Africa. Omega has developed a "school-in-a-box" approach that enables them to add new schools to the chain in a quick and systematic way. This approach includes detailed school operations manuals and systems in addition to standardized teaching and learning materials. Key components of the model include a daily, all-inclusive fee of 1.50 Ghana cedis (approximately $0.75) that allows families who might not be able to accumulate enough savings to pay a monthly or term fee to attend. This fee includes uniforms, a school bag, work books and exercise books, and a hot daily lunch. Read more about the Omega Schools here...

LEAP Science and Maths Schools- LEAP Science and Maths Schools are a chain of no-fee independent high schools offering high quality education to young, underprivileged South Africans living in high-need communities and providing the academic and life skills they need to become future leaders. The schools require only a nominal fee from students, and otherwise are funded primarily by private donors. LEAP has opened six, independent, no-fee schools thus far and it's curriculum focuses particularly on science, mathematics and English, aiming to provide students with skills that will prepare them for a successful future. A strong focus of the curriculum is also to foster self-confidence, as well as cultural and communal identity, characteristics that are sought by engaging students in community work and setting high expectations for their academic performance. Most of them also teach some of South Africa's home languages as well, including isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi and Sesotho, depending on the prevalence of those languages within the school's context.   To learn more about LEAP Science and Math Schools, click here...

Bridge International Academies- Bridge International Academies, pictured above, is a chain of over 300 low-cost private schools in Kenya with approximately 100,000 students enrolled. Bridge has designed an “Academy in a Box” model, which seeks to deliver high quality education through standardization. Bridge invests heavily in developing a robust curriculum created by experts in the education field. The curriculum itself is standardized and transformed into scripted lesson plans, which include step-by-step instructions detailing what teachers should do and say during any given moment of a class. Teacher scripts are delivered through data-enabled tablets, synced to headquarters, enabling Bridge to monitor lesson pacing, record attendance, track assessment scores, and update or add lesson scripts in real time. Bridge employs technology in order to reduce the time spent by teachers on non-instructional activities, decrease the overhead costs required to run an academy, and increase the quality of education delivered.  Read more about Bridge International Academies here...

Jnana Karanji Trust Private Schools for the Poor- Jnana Karanji Trust was created by a united group of like-minded social innovators and investors from rural backgrounds aiming to explore ways of improving access and quality of education in Bidar district in the state of Karnataka, India. Bidar is widely considered to be lagging behind in education, industry and employment, largely due to its lack of proper educational facilities and awareness about the need for quality education. Seeking to reach those most in need, the Trust started a chain of affordable schools, now present in 44 villages in Bidar. Focusing on pre-primary and primary education, the schools cover KG (ISCED 01) up to 7th class. Tuition fees are 125 Indian rupees per month, which the trust estimates to be about one day's wage (typically education fees in Bidar are 5 to 10 times more). Fees collected serve to pay teachers' salaries and cover other school expenses.  Learn more about the Jnana Karanji Trust Private Schools for the Poor here...

Innova Schools- Innova Schools, a chain of schools that offer a high quality education that for many is out of reach.  CEI profiled program Peru Champs operates a scholarship program for children from low-income communities to attend Innova Schools. Peru Champs pays 75% of Innova's fees and parents and families are required to pay the other 25%. Pending on completion of scholar requirements, the scholarship is renewed annually until students complete their secondary education at Innova Schools. Innova Schools is an ambitious educational private project in Latin America, planning to become the largest school network in the region by 2018. The company will have at least 70 world-class schools throughout Peru by 2016. Their vision is to provide affordable high-quality education to Peruvian children.  Read more about Innova Schools scholarship program Peru Champs here...

To see more low-cost private schools profiled on the CEI database click here and keep an eye out for a new LCPS Topic Portal coming soon! 

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