Much of compulsory education in the world is characterized as either public or private, the former implying that the government pays for and provides schooling services (usually for free), and the latter implying that private individuals (parents) pay for the schooling services of private providers. Although this dichotomy still characterizes much of compulsory schooling, it does not comprise all of it. A third category of schooling is emerging in which government bodies provide oversight and partial funding, and private parties create, operate, and market schooling services. Known by various names around the world-charter schools, contract schools, foundation schools, independent schools, and so forth-this form of schooling is increasingly important globally, educating millions of children and being increasingly considered as a systematic solution to the reform of public education. We refer to them here as independent schools partly for convenience and partly as a description of their relative autonomy vis-à-vis traditional public schools.
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