NSPs are generally viewed as key service providers and as more pragmatic, flexible and adaptable than state structures in fragile states. By allowing communities to identify their own priorities they are often seen as having the potential to empower communities, set up local governance structures and strengthen social accountability mechanisms. Some of they key advantages of NSPs include:
- better access and reach to the most marginalised
- improved quality
- openness to lesson learning and innovation
- an understanding of the local context and strengthening of civil society
- the engagement of parents and communities
- providing the opportunity for capacity building and scaling up.
There are also drawbacks however. As NSPs often operate outside government regulation, there is a danger that some may be providing low-quality education. In addition,they can also be disconnected from policy development in the wider sphere. Gender issues – in terms of awareness of oppressive attitudes and exploitative employment practices – are also a concern.
A key issue is the way that NSP initiatives link in with governments. Many experts argue that CBO’s should not be seen as a substitute for the state. Donors are therefore urged to support education services by aiming to address short-term education service improvements while also strengthening state capacity to enable state institutions to eventually take responsibility for service delivery in the long term.