A census and survey of schools in selected poor areas of Lagos State explored the nature and extent of private education, and compared inputs to public and private schooling. Of all schools (71%) were found to be private, with more unregistered private than government and registered private schools. It was estimated that 33% of school children were enrolled in private unregistered schools, and 75% in private schools in general. Teaching activity was found to be considerably higher in private than government schools, and teacher absenteeism was lowest in private schools. Most school inputs showed either comparable levels of provision in government and private schools, or superiority in private schools.