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Public service delivery in post-conflict situations: the case of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in education in Colombia
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González Ruiz, Ana María
Ciencias sociales; Ciencias sociales / Educación
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Alianzas público-privadas; Capacidad estatal; Construcción de la paz; Desarrollo social; Educación; Education; Non-state providers; Peacebuilding; Post-conflict reconstruction; Prestación de servicios públicos; Proveedores no estatales; Public service delivery; Public-private partnerships (PPPs); Reconstrucción en el posconflicto; social development; State capacity
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This paper explores the participation of non-state providers in public service delivery in post-conflict reconstruction societies particularly for the provision of education. Using a qualitative research method the literature regarding state capacity and governance in war-to-peace transitions is assessed to identify the pros and cons of private sector intervention. As a case study the model of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in education in Colombia is analysed in order to examine the extent to which engagements with non-state actors can be a complementary strategy to assist former combatants and victims during the implementation of a potential peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – FARC.
The Colombian model developed through the Familiar Compensation Fund – Cajas de Compensación Familiar – may be an alternative to offering educational programmes for children and youth ex-combatants. In the light of the plausible signing of a final peace agreement the provision of effective incentives in terms of basic public services will be a key driver for peacebuilding. The importance of education in development and processes of reintegration is well known, but the challenge is how to deliver adequate teaching services for children and young fighters in a context characterized by low state capacity and resource constraints. According to institutional frameworks, the model of PPPs in Colombia has served to deliver social programmes to poor communities, former combatants and victims of the armed conflict. Therefore, the case study is framed in four regions: Bogotá, Antioquia, Putumayo and Caquetá where the majority of the municipalities of the post-conflict will be concentrated except for Bogotá.
The Familiar Compensation system, also known as Social Security Institutions, is a fundamental actor in the development of the Colombian social policy. Apart from providing social welfare services to workers and targeted communities, these institutions are key allies of the government in the implementation and execution of public programmes regarding the delivery of education, housing and health services given their experience, infrastructure, good practices and national coverage to reach the population in urban and rural regions. This innovative coordination between the public and private sector is also seen in the active role the Family Compensation Fund has in the articulation and definition of public policies at national and regional levels.
Likewise, the SSIs have participated actively in the delivery of public education through different type of contracts under specific socio-economic requirements and governmental policies in order to benefit disadvantaged children and adults including demobilized and victims. The SSIs CAFAM, COMFAMILIAR PUTUMAYO, COMFACA and COMFAMA operate a variety of educational and complementary programmes according to the needs of each region. Some of them have worked together to deliver non-traditional educational services in municipalities intensely affected by the internal conflict, which are funded by both governmental and international agencies.
In a post-conflict setting, the intervention of the SSIs as non-state providers would be crucial for state building as a result of the coordination mechanisms developed so far between the state and the private sector; the institutional and operational capacity of the SSIs in the provision of social services; and the accountability mechanism created to supervise and control the Family Compensation system through the Superintendence of Family Subsidy.
Hence strengthening engagements with non-state actors in Colombia may contribute to restoring legitimacy and accountability in marginalized regions exercising the state an indirect role in service delivery via regulation and monitoring. Still accountability will need to be reinforced since some SSIs have been intervened due to political clientelism and local elite capture of decision-making, which have undermined their social impact in the communities where they operate. Nonetheless, the successful experiences of the Family Compensation Funds – among which are entrepreneurship, housing, microcredit, and education services – can be replicated and articulated in rural areas following the alternative model of PPPs in service delivery.
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