Private actors in Education: Examining the changing dynamic

A variety of non-state actors have always participated in education in one way or another. Religious and charitable institutions have actively been running schools and universities for centuries. Philanthropic foundations have been supporting educational interventions in schools and communities. More recently, think tanks and management consultancies have had enormous influence in informing policy, educational governance and public discourse. Private corporations, particularly EdTech companies, are now increasingly influential in the practices of education, linking directly with institutions as well as with education systems. Governments and international organisations actively promote public-private partnerships, and there appears to be a consensus globally that Sustainable Development Goal 4 cannot be achieved without engaging a host of private actors. Sustainable Development Goal 17 specifically encourages such partnerships for realising the Goals. Consequently, the roles, ambitions, and nature of private sector participation have been changing. Private actors are increasingly engaged in key government functions thereby blurring the lines between ‘public’ and ‘private’. New models of philanthro-capitalism and venture-philanthropy are now in vogue. These new modes of engagement are producing new relations between private actors, the state, institutions, and education itself.

This Roundtable explores the dynamics of these new relations and discusses the challenges, opportunities and limits of engagement of private actors in education.


Ms Sue Cridge

Sue Cridge

Sue Cridge is a passionate life-long educator who has over 40 years of experience. She has been acknowledged as an Outstanding Education Leader by the state of Victoria in 2003 and was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship in Education in the same year while working in disadvantaged schools across the government education system. Sue also served as a volunteer teacher of English in a refugee camp for the United Nations.

Sue’s international experience extends to five years spent as Executive Director of Citizen Schools New Mexico USA, establishing a model of expanded learning opportunities for underserved public schools as part of a national US education reform initiative. Upon returning to Australia, Sue led the Innovation Program at the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, an integral part of the Australian education architecture. Sue was also invited to join the Australian delegation to the World Innovation Summit for Education both in 2012 and 2013.

In 2013, Sue joined Social Ventures Australia to design, deliver and lead the national initiative The Bright Spots Schools Connection. The Connection provides innovative networked support to leaders to develop projects and actions that respond to the issues of educational disadvantage in Australia’s most challenged communities. In 2015, Sue was acknowledged with an award from the Australian Council for Educational Leaders.

Sue has dedicated her career to a focus on building systemic access for education equity.

Dr Jordana Hunter

Jordana Hunter

Dr Jordana Hunter is the Education Program Director at Grattan Institute, a non-partisan Australian think tank. She has an extensive background in policy design and implementation, with particular expertise in education reform.

Jordana has co-authored a number of Grattan reports, including Making Time for Great TeachingEnding the Lesson LotteryThe Reading Guarantee and Spreading Success. In 2023, she was expert panel member of the Commonwealth Education Minister’s Better and Fairer school education review. Her research interests are in education system design, workforce development and lifting student academic outcomes.

Jordana has previously held policy and leadership roles in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Jordana has a PhD from the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She also has an Honours degree in Law and Commerce (Economics) from the University of Melbourne.

Dr Emma Rowe

Emma Rowe

Emma Rowe is a Senior Research Fellow at Deakin University, and her research focuses on public education, policy and practice. In 2021, Emma received an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to study philanthropy in public education and how this impacts policy, practice and governance (2021-2024). She is a Fulbright Scholar (2020) and completed a residency at Indiana University, hosted by Professor Christopher Lubienski in 2022. She continues to serve as a Research Fellow at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University. She was an invited guest lecturer to Yale University USA, Melbourne University Australia, and Aarhus University Copenhagen. Emma’s research is regularly featured in leading Australian media, including newspaper and television. She publishes in Q1 journals including Comparative Education, the International Journal of Educational Research, amongst others. She currently serves as a lead editor for Journal of Education Policy and sits on advisory boards of other highly ranked journals in education.

Ms Shaveta Sharma-Kukreja

Shaveta Sharma-Kukreja

Shaveta Sharma-Kukreja is the CEO & Managing Director at Central Square Foundation. She has been part of the founding team at CSF since 2012. Shaveta leads CSF’s work on FLN (Foundational Literacy & Numeracy), Early Childhood Education (ECE) and EdTech, and oversees the organization’s institution building. She is passionate to bring to life CSF’s vision of quality learning for all children and government-led system reform for scale and sustainability.

Shaveta is on the advisory board of Language and Learning Foundation Foundation (LLF), Madhi Foundation and Saarthi Education. She is also on the advisory board of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS) in line with her commitment for high-quality leadership for the social sector. Another passion area for her is gender, and she is a founding mentor to The Udaiti Foundation that is working on women economic empowerment.

Prior to CSF, she worked at The Boston Consulting Group and Citibank. She has also been a visiting faculty member in the Human Resources and Organizational Behavior disciplines at different business schools. Shaveta earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi, and holds an MBA in Management from IIM, Bangalore.

She is a proud parent to two young adults (a boy & girl) & furry-boy. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching Hindi movies & listening to music, solving Sudoku & Kakuro puzzles and traveling with her family.

Ms Sowmya Velayudham

Sowmya Velayudham

Sowmya Velayudham has two decades of experience in the healthcare, social and education sectors. She is currently a Director in the Education and Skilling practice of KPMG, working with Governments and public sector entities in shaping the future educational landscape in the country. Sowmya has also been the co-founder and CEO of Gray Matters India (now ConveGenius Insights) – a social enterprise that is focused on learning outcome assessments. She has on-field experience in the education sector spanning affordable private schools (APS), government schools and ed-techs and has played a key role in implementing large scale education projects in more than 10 Indian states.

Sowmya has completed her MS from Penn State University and her MBA (Strategy & Marketing) from the Indian School of Business. She also has an executive degree in Performance Management of not-for-profits from Harvard Kennedy School.


Mr Amit Kaushik

Amit Kaushik

Amit Kaushik is Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council for Educational Research (India), a not-for-profit research organisation that undertakes commissioned educational research, large scale learning assessments, professional development, capacity building, and programme evaluation for a range of clients in India and South Asia.

Amit was a civil servant for 20 years, joining the Indian Railways in 1987. During his tenure in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, he worked on a variety of challenging assignments, including development and implementation of various policies related to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – the world’s largest elementary education programme – and the 2005 draft of the Right to Education Bill, based on which The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was passed in 2009.

Since leaving government in 2007, Amit has worked with a number of education sector organisations in the private and/or not-for-profit sector, including Pratham, India’s largest primary education NGO. He was Managing Director of one of India’s largest publicly listed education companies, operating a chain of 50+ private fee-charging schools, as well as the education practice lead for a consulting firm.

He has been a consultant to UNESCO India, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Paris, as well as to UNICEF Iraq and Yemen, working with them from time to time on assignments related to literacy, Education for All, non-formal education, accelerated learning, education in emergencies, and the Global Partnership for Education.

Amit has published research work on education in several peer-reviewed publications and journals and has presented at national and international education conferences. In addition to his professional commitments, Amit has also served on the boards of several organisations working in education, and participated in, or chaired, various committees on behalf of the government and industry bodies. During 2021-22, he was co-chair of the Provisional Independent Technical Advisory Panel established by the Global Partnership for Education, the largest global fund solely dedicated to transforming education in lower-income countries.

He has an MA (Hons) degree in Economics from the Panjab University, Chandigarh, and a Diploma in Governance & Public Policy from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands.


2.30 pm—4.00 pm AEST (10.00 am—11.30 am IST), Wednesday 5 June 2024.


Online via Zoom.



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The Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE), Tata Institute of Social Sciences

This seminar is presented by the Education, Governance and Policy for Sustainable Societies research group of REDI, in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.

The Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE) is an Independent Centre at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, established with the aim of synergising the revitalisation of teacher education in India. The Centre’s multidisciplinary team has been working on various aspects of education policy, practice, educational technology and teacher education since 2014.
Date: 5 June 2024 Cost: Free
Venue: Online View location
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