Working Paper


Low-Fee Private-Tuition Providers in Developing Countries: An Under-Appreciated and Under-Studied Market—Supply-Side Dynamics in Pakistan


Although low-income parents’ dependence on low-fee private schools has been actively documented in the past decade, existing research and policy discussions have failed to recognise their heavy reliance on low-fee tuition providers in order to ensure that their children complete the primary cycle. By mapping a vibrant supply of low-fee tuition providers in two neighbourhoods in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Pakistan, this paper argues for understanding the supply-side dynamics of this segment of the education market with the aim of designing better-informed policies, making better use of public spending on supporting private-sector players to reach the poor. Contrary to what is assumed in studies of the private tuition market, the low-fee tuition providers offering services in the Pakistani urban neighbourhoods are not teachers in government schools trying to make extra money by offering afternoon tutorial to children from their schools. Working from their homes, the tutors featured in this paper are mostly women who often have no formal teacher training but are imaginative in their use of a diverse set of teaching techniques to ensure that children from low-income households who cannot get support for education at home cope with their daily homework assignments and pass the annual exams to transition to the next grade. These tutors were motivated to offer tuition by a combination of factors ranging from the need to earn a living, a desire to stay productively engaged, and for some a commitment to help poor children. Arguing that parents expect them to take full responsibility for their children’s educational attainment, these providers view the poor quality of education in schools, the weak maternal involvement in children’s education, and changing cultural norms, whereby children no longer respect authority, as being key to explaining the prevailing low educational levels. The paper presents evidence that the private tuition providers, who may be viewed as education entrepreneurs, have the potential to be used by the state and development agencies to provide better quality education to children from low-income families.


Bano, M. 2022. Low-Fee Private-Tuition Providers in Developing Countries: An Under-Appreciated and Under-Studied Market—Supply-Side Dynamics in Pakistan. RISE Working Paper Series. 22/107.