Education in Africa: what are we learning?

Author(s): Evans, David K.; Mendez Acosta, Amina

Date: 2020

Pages: p. 13-54


Countries across Africa continue to face major challenges in education. In this review, the authors examine 145 recent empirical studies (from 2014 onward) on how to increase access to and improve the quality of education across the continent, specifically examining how these studies update previous research findings. The authors find that 64 percent of the studies evaluate government implemented programs, 36 percent include detailed cost analysis, and 35 percent evaluate multiple treatment arms. They identify several areas where new studies provide rigorous evidence on topics that do not figure prominently in earlier evidence syntheses. New evidence shows promising impacts of structured pedagogy interventions (which typically provide a variety of inputs, such as lesson plans and training for teachers together with new materials for students) and of mother tongue instruction interventions, as well as from a range of teacher programs, including both remunerative (pay-for-performance of various designs) and non-remunerative (coaching and certain types of training) programs. School feeding delivers gains in both access and learning. New studies also show long-term positive impacts of eliminating school fees for primary school and positive impacts of eliminating fees in secondary school. Education technology interventions have decidedly mixed impacts, as do school grant programs and programs providing individual learning inputs (e.g., uniforms or textbooks).

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