Secondary school enrollment in Africa is expected to double by 2030, yet high youth unemployment rates suggest that the existing formal education system is not preparing students to improve their livelihoods through work.

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Many students arrive at primary school without the educational experiences that support the skills needed to succeed in school. This can compromise students’ long-term learning and school success. One way to address this issue is through high quality pre-primary education. In the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, where enrollment in pre-primary education is high, researchers evaluated the impact of an affordable, in-service kindergarten teacher training.

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Many students in Sub-Saharan Africa are not learning to read in their first years of school and literacy rates remain low in the region. Researchers partnered with the Kenyan Ministry of Education to evaluate the impact of two strategies aimed at improving the literacy skills of school children in Kenya: enhanced literacy instruction, through teacher training and text message support, and child-to-child reading groups.

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Many governments and organizations implement school-based financial literacy programs to promote positive financial behaviors at an early age, yet little is known about the impacts. In southern and eastern Ghana, researchers evaluated two youth financial literacy programs to test their impact on savings, labor, academic performance, and financial decision-making. One program integrated financial and social education, while the second only offered financial education.

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In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition from primary school to high school is costly for students and their parents even when tuition costs are low. In Kenya, researchers partnered with a telecom operator to evaluate the impact of a commitment savings account, called the “High Hopes” Lock-Savings Account, on account usage, savings and loans, and school enrollment.

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Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs have been proven effective at improving educational attainment in some settings, but there has been little rigorous evaluation of CCT product design. Researchers in Bogotá, Colombia, evaluated whether changing the timing and type of CCTs could lead to greater impact on educational attainment.

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Teacher Community Assistant in her classroom in Ghana

Over the last decade, millions more children in developing countries have gained access to primary school education. Despite this achievement, a large number of children enrolled in their first years of school are still not learning how to read, write, or do basic math. Building on previous research, researchers in this study evaluated the impact of several targeted instruction programs on the learning outcomes of primary school students in Ghana’s public schools.

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A Ghanaian student sits in class

Does the migration of highly educated people from developing countries hurt local economies, decimating their human capital and fiscal revenue? Or does a highly educated diaspora serve to develop economies through remittances, trade, foreign direct investment and knowledge transfers? Researchers tracked academic high achievers from five countries and found large positive benefits of high-skilled migration for citizens of high emigration countries.

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As girls pass through adolescence, a number of factors influence whether they complete secondary school, avoid teenage pregnancy, and develop the life skills, attitudes, behaviors and relationships that will set them on a path to a healthy and productive adulthood. This evaluation investigates whether being part of a mentorship and life skills program, “Sisters of Success,” during early adolescence improves outcomes for girls in Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia.

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Research suggests that children who grow up in violent environments are more likely to use aggression to resolve conflicts, and that exposure to such violence can impact student learning. In addition, some studies indicate that it is important for children to build skills that enable them to develop sympathy and empathy for others, and maintain positive relationships.

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Despite an increased international interest in child development, representative data on child development is still remarkably scarce, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa.

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As of 2005, Kenya had one of the largest HIV-infected populations in the world—approximately 7 percent of Kenyans were infected. To test the impact of information on teenagers’ sexual decisions, a “Relative Risk Information Campaign” was conducted in 71 schools to give students information about the distribution of HIV infection rates by age and gender groups and discuss the role of cross-generational sex in the spread of HIV.

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When young learners are performing below average in school, how can we close the learning gap? In this study, researchers partnered with Universidad Cayetano Heredia to design and evaluate the impact of a program aimed at helping low-performing students—mostly from low-income urban households—master basic skills in science.

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Improving financial literacy and access to bank accounts may help youth save, allowing them to meet current financial needs and invest in their futures. In Uganda, researchers evaluated whether offering financial education or group savings accounts to church-based youth groups increased savings.

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Can online sexual health education courses improve students’ sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and behavior? Do such courses also have positive effects on the peers of students who take the course? Researchers evaluated the impact of an online sexual health education course on the knowledge and sexual behavior of urban Colombian high school students. The education program led to significant impacts on knowledge and attitudes.

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