says: "In order for women and girls to be able to realise their right to education, as well as their rights to non-discrimination and equality more broadly, it is imperative that education be seen as a public good, and not as a commodity.
"The negative consequences which are borne when education is privatised, such as systemic discrimination against girls when education becomes marketised, cannot be adequately redressed through increased regulation of private actors alone."
The United Nations estimates that 123 million people aged 15 to 24 lack basic reading and writing skills, and 61 per cent of these are young women and girls.
Lucy McKernan, UN liaison with the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, one of the organisations that delivered the report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, said that for poor families even low fees were a "massive disincentive" to educating girls.
Keith Lewin, professor of international education and development at Sussex University, said charging for education was "an outrage". Poor boys also missed out because of fee-charging, he added, and using state funding to pay private organisations to provide education was "risky" because of a lack of transparency and regulation. He stressed that a number of poor countries, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam, were improving their education systems effectively through state-funded schools.
But Mr Tooley, co-founder of the low-cost Omega Schools chain in Ghana claimed that the report was selective in its use of existing research, which actually painted a more nuanced picture. The evidence that private schools discriminated against girls was not as strong as the report suggested, he said, and in West Africa it was "not true at all". The authors had also ignored research showing that the quality of teaching and outcomes in private schools tended to be better, he added.
"A conclusion which went closer to the evidence should have been: give poor girls and their families vouchers or cash transfers so they can access low-cost private schools to the same degree as boys, in those few countries where this is not already true," he said. "This.report simply sets out to deprive girls and their families of real choices in the interests of a narrow ideology."