The study concerns the effectiveness of management in private and public schools in Lebanon. An interest was why parents choose to pay for education when free public schools are available. In order to explain this, a case study model was chosen in order to compare private and public schools in Lebanon. Using a qualitative approach, the study comprised four schools, two private and two public, in the same region of Lebanon. Structured interviews were conducted, together with documentary analysis and some observation work. The investigation tackled the following aspects: the structure of the schools, decision-making, financial resources, relations at schools (administration-teachers, teachers-students), the culture, parents and their relation to the school, and private-public ideology. It was found that there were some major differences between the private and public schools which did not just relate to their student intake or resources. This related to the external control of the school and the internal authority patterns and relationships. Teacher security was linked to their job performance and sense of belonging to the school. In the private schools, greater freedom in decision-making by both the principal and staff meant a more efficient operation; greater accountability to parents meant a more conducive and less punitive culture for learning. A model of the ‘school order’ was proposed to provide a conceptual framework to understand these features. This comprised the elements of: authority, autonomy accountability, democracy and discipline. These aspects were the direct or indirect reasons for the parents’ choice of the schools for their children. The study makes recommendations for greater autonomy for public schools, but not for privatization as such. It also recommends greater democracy for all schools
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