Making private education in Lagos work: evaluating DEEPEN

By Ian MacAuslan, EDOREN Workstreams 1 and 5 Leader

The role of the private sector in providing education in Nigeria cannot be ignored: in Lagos, a city of 20 million, nearly three in four school-going primary children are in private school. And this is not limited to the rich: three in five school-going children from poor households are in private school.

Chart prvate schools

Chart poverty line private school

Source: Tooley et al (2013); DFID (2013); Harma (2011). Low cost schools have fees below NGN25,000 per year in fees and associated costs; high cost schools have fees and costs above NGN50,000.

For every one government school, there are ten private schools: the vast majority of schools in Lagos are unapproved private schools. Surveys indicate these numbers are growing.

Chart private unapproved

Source: Tooley et al (2013); DFID (2013); Harma (2011).

Little is known about the range and quality of these private schools, and until recently, there was limited public regulation of or support to these schools. Many ā€“ including the 8,953 unapproved schools in the graph above ā€“ operate under the radar of government. Some provide great quality education; others do not.

The Developing Effective Private Education in Nigeria (DEEPEN) project aims to improve the market for private education in Lagos. It supports the creation of a stronger regulatory environment, better information about private schooling, and more use of school improvement and financial services by private schools. It aims to improve the quality of education and learning outcomes. If successful, it could be a model for making private education work in Nigeria and in many other countries.

The EDOREN evaluation will measure the impact of DEEPEN on learning outcomes, and explain what works, and why. Results will come in three stages: baseline results setting out the situation in private schools in August 2015; first phase results by July 2017; and final results by July 2018.

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