Low-fee private schools, the state, and globalization: A market analysis within the political sociology of education and development


  • D. Brent Edwards Jr. University of Hawaii http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3955-9525
  • Taeko Okitsu Otsuma Women’s University
  • Peggy Mwanza University of Zambia




Low-fee private schools, education market, privatization, Zambia, early-childhood education, political sociology


This study investigates the emergence and supply-demand dynamics of a market for low-fee private schools (LFPS) at the level of early childhood care and education (ECCE) in a slum of Lusaka, Zambia. Based on data collection over 1.5 years, the study reveals that, despite a government policy to support ECCE, over 90% of ECCE centers are private; that school operators tend to be former teachers, businessmen/women, and religious leaders; and that LFPSs charge, on average, 2.5 times as much as government ECCE centers for tuition, not including additional indirect costs. The paper discusses how teachers in LFPSs are caught in the middle, making less than the average income earned by others in the surrounding slum, and are unable to afford LFPS fees themselves. Importantly, the paper highlights that lower income quintiles spend a greater percentage of their income on ECCE, and that a majority of families in the study must make tradeoffs between ECCE, food, housing, and other basic expenditures in order to afford private ECCE, which is a necessity given the inadequate supply of government ECCE centers. In addition to addressing school strategies for keeping costs down, this study reports on parental decision-making when it comes to school selection. Finally, beyond a straight market analysis of LFPSs at the ECCE level in Zambia, this article also comments on how this market fits into the dialectical nature of local and global contexts. That is, it draws attention to the workings of the Zambian state and its precarious position in the global capitalist economy.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

D. Brent Edwards Jr., University of Hawaii

D. Brent Edwards Jr., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Theory and Methodology in the Study of Education.            His research focuses on the global governance of education, global education policies, quasi-market policies, and decentralization.

Taeko Okitsu, Otsuma Women’s University

Taeko Okitsu, D.Phil. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Otsuma Women’s Univresity in Japan. Her research focuses on the issues related to community participation in school management, educational policy, and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

Peggy Mwanza, University of Zambia

Peggy Mwanza, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University of Zambia. She has authored a number of journal articles in educational policy and educational management. Her research interests include: educational leadership and management, educational policy, gender issues, teacher education,  early childhood education, and HIV and AIDS issues.




How to Cite

Edwards Jr., D. B., Okitsu, T., & Mwanza, P. (2019). Low-fee private schools, the state, and globalization: A market analysis within the political sociology of education and development. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27, 133. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.4534



Globalization, Privatization, Marginalization