The contribution non-state provision can make to achieving the education Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has become a matter of widespread debate. Growth in private schooling at relatively low fee levels has been encouraged by state failure in providing access to schooling at acceptable levels of quality as a result of Education for All (EFA) programmes. At the same time, service delivery by NGOs, funded by international donor agencies, is seen as an appropriate means to filling the gap in provision for the most ‘hard-to-reach’. As such, concern for achieving MDGs has led some to argue that non-state providers can offer further opportunities to extend access, implying a changing role for the state in education service delivery. Papers in the session will consider these issues with respect to contextual realities that shape the future development of non-state provision of primary and secondary schooling, drawing on evidence from recent research in Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa in particular.