Linking socioeconomic background to learning outcomes: new evidence from Nigeria

Autor(es): Azubuike, Bridget; Adefeso-Olateju, Modupe

Organisation(s): The Education Partnership Centre (Nigeria)

Date: 2019

Pages: 11 p.


Socioeconomic status is recognised as a predictor of learning outcomes. Poverty is notable for its detrimental influence on cognition, school achievement and socio-emotional wellbeing. According to the World Bank Report on education (2018), students’ average scores are significantly affected by family socioeconomic status, which implies that the prospects of children are tied to the status of their parents. The poor learning outcomes of children from poor backgrounds perpetuates a cycle of poverty as they are unable to access higher levels of education that present opportunities for higher-order skills and better employment opportunities. This position is generic to the global population but more persistent in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Whilst an estimated 13.2 million Nigerian children are out of school, the learning levels of those who are able to access education are low as evidenced by available assessment data. Because most household surveys preclude child testing while school-based assessments typically do not provide household data, there is very limited data which empirically establishes links between socioeconomic status of children and their learning outcomes. The LEARNigeria survey which provides data on learning levels and home background of over 40,000 children within 26,230 households. The results reveal that children from poor socioeconomic background may perform better in numeracy, even with poor literacy skills. In Kano, beginner level children in literacy and numeracy constitute the largest proportion of children assessed within the lower tercile of the wealth index. However, in Ebonyi, while most of the children within the lower tercile households are at beginner level in literacy, the highest proportion were graded at multiplication, being the highest numeracy level, with only 5% considered as beginners. The implication of this data is that further consideration of influence of socioeconomic status on learning outcomes should explore effect of regional differences, particularly, major occupation of the region.

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