Non-state education provision; access and quality for the marginalised

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Helpdesk Query:

This rapid review summarises what is known and in what contexts and with what degree of confidence around the provision of non-state schooling in developing contexts, in particular on the effectiveness of non-state schooling to raise education quality and learning outcomes, with a particular focus on equity and the most marginalised children (poverty, gender, disabled, informal urban dwellers, children in conflict/crisis).


This report undertakes a rapid review of some recent, high quality syntheses and reports to summarise the evidence on the effectiveness of different types of non-state schools in reaching the marginalised and providing quality education to them.
Non-state provision has risen dramatically over the last few decades especially across South and West Asia and the Latin America and Caribbean region and provides opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. The all-encompassing term ‘non-state’ constitutes a spectrum of providers with different characteristics, scope and scale.

Overall, the evidence is indicative of potential improvements in learning outcomes in certain types of non-state provision but this is caveated by the very low overall learning outcomes across education systems, as well as by the extent to which non-state provision is aligned with human rights. There is evidence of certain types of non-state providers being able to reach the marginalised and disadvantaged more effectively but questions exist with regards to their sustainability. Whilst different types of arrangements may work in different contexts, the critical factor remains the governments’ ability to both foster an enabling environment but also combine it with effective legislation, monitoring and regulation to ensure quality education provision.

There is evidence of certain types of non-state actors being able to achieve better learning outcomes than state school counterparts (moderate evidence for low-fee private (LFP) schools and philanthropic schools) and of certain types of arrangements with governments (subsidies to non-state actors) showing weakly positive indications of improved educational quality. The evidence on equity in access to quality education is more ambiguous and mixed and differs depending on type of non-state provider.

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