What Does Private Sector Engagement Mean in Education?
“The USAID PSE Policy moves us from a transactional or project-based approach to strategic collaboration and relationship building to create opportunities for scale and sustainability.” - USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick
The USAID Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Policy is an Agency-wide call to action to work hand-in-hand with the private sector to design and deliver programs across all sectors. Each operating unit and Mission was tasked to create an operational plan for integrating PSE into its portfolio. As a technical center, the Center for Education PSE in Education Plan seeks to build:
- relationships with ancillary industries and private sector actors with aligned business, social responsibility, and/or philanthropic interests;
- a body of knowledge products and PSE models for education;
- and links between Agency and Mission-level PSE.
Private Sector Engagement (PSE) is defined under USAID’s PSE Policy as a strategic approach to planning and programming through which USAID consults, strategizes, aligns, collaborates, and implements with the private sector for greater scale, sustainability, and effectiveness in achieving development or humanitarian outcomes across all sectors.
Let’s Break Down What That Means
At a glance, USAID works with partners to strengthen education systems and the delivery of quality learning opportunities and skills development for children and youth. The business community represents a stakeholder with equities and buy-in aligned with these goals, whether through their core business, corporate social responsibility, or philanthropic strategies.
PSE is an iterative analytical process, with learning at each stage. It begins by identifying a clear education challenge and the contributing development issues. The PSE in education approach seeks opportunities for co-leadership, co-design, and/or co-investment to address gaps and root problems and to strengthen the natural intersections between the private sector and education to achieve sustainable impact. PSE opportunities exist at all points along the education continuum from pre-primary and primary education to youth/workforce development and higher education.
Ask PSE questions. Then, we can do desk research and talk with entities who know the private sector and industry, such as American Chambers of Commerce (AMCHAMs), Foreign Direct Investment Groups, U.S. Embassy, USAID Trade Hubs, Business Fights Poverty, etc. The goal is to identify and build the most strategic and relevant relationships for collaboration and partnership that advance the USAID Education Policy, the USAID Mission, and the host government’s development agenda. PSE in the education sector not only looks at the gaps and opportunities to strengthen education systems for learning and skills development but also links to broader development objectives, most commonly employment and economic growth strategies.
Along with the USAID PSE Policy Guidance, consider the following PSE questions:
- What are the education challenges?
- What is the business landscape?
- What kind of partner is needed: a strategic partner, implementation partner, and/or resource partner?
- What are the roles and interests of the private sector in addressing education challenges?
- How does the prospective partner engage in the education space? Is it through their core business, corporate social responsibility, or philanthropy?
- Together, do we want co-leadership, co-design, and/or co-investment?
Working Together - PSE in education opportunities and models are out there. Both USAID and the business community possess assets and roles in development that can create a shared value proposition when joined together. While not comprehensive or country-specific, the Center for Education has identified a variety of ways to involve the private sector to inform programming, demonstrate co-leadership to advance critical issues, and co-design or co-invest in a joint strategy that can yield greater results and impact. As USAID/Washington builds corporate and industry relationships, it shares a business’ interests with the Mission PSE points of contact and education officers, after screening the opportunity and connecting the dots with USAID’s education and development goals.
New Ways of Doing Business. Along with the USAID PSE Policy, the Agency is pursuing a variety of reforms and organizational changes to make it more efficient and effective for donors and the business community to work together to address development challenges. Modes of engagement from the informal to the more formal channels, such as the Global Development Alliance (GDA) and New Partnership Initiative (NPI), are part of more comprehensive procurement reforms around acquisitions and assistance that aligns with USAID’s commitment to due diligence and risk management. Throughout the process, USAID maintains a focus on activities that support a host country’s journey to self reliance, and help sustain the impact of the U.S. Government’s foreign policy investment
For more information, reach out to the Center for Education or the appropriate USAID Mission PSE point of contact.