Provision of Education by Non-state Actors in Arab Countries: Benefits and risks
Basic social services such as education, water and sanitation, health care and housing are intended to meet essential human needs. States are responsible for guaranteeing equal access to these services, either through direct provision or through the regulation of services provided by the private sector and civil society organizations. Following independence, most Arab countries built comprehensive systems of social services, provided to the population by the State free of charge. With population growth, however, and in the wake of socioeconomic crises and armed conflict, these public systems have been pushed beyond their capacity. In response, private sector and civil society organizations have begun to fill the gaps in coverage and to address quality deficits that have increasingly characterized State service provision in several countries.
This paper will first outline the patterns of non-State provision of education across the region, including the trends observed in non-State provision, the forms of private sector and civil society provision of education in the Arab region and the regulation of non-State schools in varying national contexts. Furthermore, the paper analyses the benefits and risks of both private sector and civil society provision of education. The benefits and risks of non-State provision are measured by three criteria: the extent to which it increases availability of education, quality and relevance of the education provided and its impact upon equity in the education system. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations on how the benefits of private and civil society provision of education can be realized and the associated risks minimized.