The Surprisingly Dire Situation of Children's Education in Rural West Africa: Results from the CREO Study in Guinea-Bissau (Comprehensive Review of Education Outcomes)
We conducted a survey covering 20% of villages with 200-1000 population in rural Guinea-Bissau. We interviewed household heads, care-givers of children, and their teachers and schools. We analysed results from 9,947 children, aged 7-17, tested for literacy and numeracy competency. Only 27% of children were able to add two single digits, and just 19% were able to read and comprehend a simple word. Our unannounced school checks found 72% of enrolled children in grades 1-4 attending their schools, but the schools were poorly equipped. Teachers were present at 86% of schools visited. Despite surveying 351 schools, we found no examples of successful schools where children reached reasonable levels of literacy and numeracy for age. Our evidence suggests that interventions that raise school quality in these villages, rather than those which target enrollment, may be most important to generate very sharp improvements in children's educational outcomes.
We are grateful to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Cambridge, MA, USA, and Effective Intervention, a UK charity, for financial support. Pratham, an Indian charity, kindly provided assistance with test design. Participants at the NBER "African Successes" conference in Accra, Ghana, and the "CREO Study Report Conference" in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, provided helpful comments. Alex Eble advised on early study design. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Corresponding author: Ila Fazzio.
Simon Johnson sometimes speaks for a fee to financial sector groups.
The Surprisingly Dire Situation of Children's Education in Rural West Africa: Results from the CREO Study in Guinea-Bissau (Comprehensive Review of Education Outcomes), Peter Boone, Ila Fazzio, Kameshwari Jandhyala, Chitra Jayanty, Gangadhar Jayanty, Simon Johnson, Vimala Ramachandran, Filipa Silva, Zhaoguo Zhan . in African Successes, Volume II: Human Capital, Edwards, Johnson, and Weil. 2016