This is an exploratory qualitative case study designed to gain insights into stakeholders‟ experiences and understanding of the implementation of public-private partnership (PPP) policy in universal secondary education (USE) in Uganda. Though extensive literature on PPPs in education exists, it largely focuses on PPP roles, challenges and impacts in education service delivery. It hardly explores the insights into how and why stakeholders experience, understand and influence the implementation of PPPs in education in the way they do, and what they perceive as critical success factors (CSFs) for their implementation in the context of developing countries.
The stakeholders for the study, who were purposively selected, included officials from the Ministry of Education, district local governments, members of Parliament, school proprietors, head teachers and teachers, parents, local leaders, NGO-based educators and academics with experience and knowledge of PPP policy in USE. The study was informed by Freeman‟s (1984) stakeholder theory and conceptualised within the phenomenological interpretive paradigm and qualitative case study approaches. Wakiso district, in Uganda‟s central region, was considered as a case study area owing to its dominance in having more partnership schools in rural-urban settings than other districts. In-depth interviews, document analysis and field notes were the main methods of data collection. Data was analysed through content and thematic qualitative approaches. The findings indicate varying stakeholders‟ understandings of the policy. Most stakeholders perceived the policy to have emerged from the government‟s need to increase access to USE amidst budgetary constraints, excess demand for USE, inadequate capacity of public schools to provide USE, and partly from political influences and interests. It was evident that most government-based stakeholders and academics had a more technical and clear understanding of the policy than school-based stakeholders. This revealed that some stakeholders were implementing the policy they did not clearly understand. The varying stakeholders‟ understandings of the same policy largely derived from the different contextual factors they experienced in the policy implementation hierarchy. While most government stakeholders perceived the policy as successful due to its impacts of increasing access to USE, the majority of other stakeholders perceived it as unsuccessful owing to the low and compromised quality of USE outcomes and cynicism about its equity impacts. Most school-based stakeholders of this policy focused more on monetary incentives and profit-making than its goals. While most non-state stakeholders‟ motivations and influences in this policy were monetary driven, their experiences were largely context-specific challenges in its implementation hierarchy. The policy and its success were perceived with mixed opinions by stakeholders, who suggested regular policy reviews; commitment to partnership roles; sufficient funding; selection of partners with adequate capacity; effective policy communication strategy; regular monitoring and supervision; and strong enforcement mechanisms as CSFs for its successful implementation. The thesis concludes that unless appropriate policy reforms informed by these findings are made, the success and sustainability of the implementation of PPP policy in USE would remain uncertain in context of Uganda and other similar countries.