The effects of tutoring on children’s learning outcomes in Nigeria

More school-aged children and youth are out of school in Nigeria than any other country in the world.  Even when children enroll in and attend school, they face poor quality learning opportunities and outcomes due to limited resources, overcrowding in classrooms, and untrained teachers.  The problem is even more acute in conflict-affected northern Nigerian states like Yobe, where an estimated 90% of school-aged children cannot read.

From 2018-2019, the Airbel Impact Lab conducted this Impact Evaluation to measure the impact of remedial tutoring on primary school children in conflict-affected settings in Nigeria.  This intervention prioritized the development of basic literacy, numeracy and social-emotional learning (SEL) skills for low-performing primary school children and children at high risk of dropping out.  The program was offered free of charge and took place after school, lasting 2.5 hours per session, 3 times per week.  Children who participated received supplementary learning materials and were taught by certified teachers who received professional pedagogy training at the direction of the IRC.  

A randomized control study consisting of 1,175 school-aged children in Borno and Yobe showed that tutoring had positive, and statistically significant results on all 5 reading skills measured by USAID’s Early Grade Reading Assessment, on 5 out 8 numeracy skills measured by the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment, and on 1 of 8 SEL skills (hostile attribution bias), which was measured by a combination of assessments. As predicted, tutoring had greater treatment effects on children from higher socio-economic status families who spoke Hausa in the home (Hausa is the dominant language of instruction at government in northern Nigerian schools). However, our results indicated that overall, the program was able to reduce some literacy and numeracy equity gaps by region and home language. The cost per child who received tutoring was £63, which suggests that tutoring has the promise of being a cost-effective intervention.

While the intervention had positive impacts on traditional learning outcomes, it had notably less effect on SEL skills: tutoring led to a decrease in participants’ hostile attribution bias, but the program did not show significant positive effects in other SEL skills, such as problem solving and aggression.  Moving forward, we recommend conducting further adaptation of SEL materials and training to ensure cultural relevance to the target population.

Overall, with DFID’s support, the IRC and Creative Associates International provided 22,161 primary school children who were at risk of dropping out with remedial tutoring.  Our impact evaluation reveals that non-formal programs and research targeted to support low-performing, crisis-affected children can be an impactful intervention with the potential of being a cost-effective investment.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.