Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA)
Looking back on Nigeria’s COVID-19 School Closures: Effects of Parental Investments on Learning Outcomes and Avoidance of Hysteresis in Education
- Scholars are concerned that COVID-19 and related school closures have led to learning losses globally.
- The Nigerian government implemented mandatory school closures in March 2020 in response to the first cases of COVID-19. Schools remained closed until September 2020.
- National survey data collected by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics on alternative learning methods used during this time show that e-learning tools were less popular than low-cost educational interventions such as increased parental involvement and private tutoring.
- A RISE survey of 73 low-cost private schools in Abuja found that student performance decreased by about .65 and .6 standard deviations in maths and English, respectively, relative to performance prior to school closures. These numbers equal the amount of learning we would expect students to lose by missing 5-6 months of classes in other contexts.
- RISE survey data also reveals that schools experienced extreme financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, resulting in difficulty paying and retaining teachers.
The spread of and containment measures against COVID-19 such as school closures have severely affected education systems globally. UNESCO estimated in spring 2021 that two-thirds of an academic year had been lost worldwide due to COVID-19 school closures, and this number can only have increased since then. The World Economic Forum estimates that 1.6 billion children were out of the classroom at the initial peak of the pandemic in about 200 countries. The time children spent out of school likely led to learning losses similar to a “summer slide,” a phenomenon in which academic performance decreases after summer breaks. Empirical evidence largely from developed countries has already found huge learning losses from school closures despite the transition to remote learning. There is a growing concern around potential learning losses especially for children in developing countries who are already facing chronic learning deficits.
The Nigerian government implemented school closures in March 2020 in response to the first cases of COVID-19. Schools remained closed until September 2020. During this six-month period, at least 22.4 million public elementary school students, 6.8 million lower secondary school students, and 1.7 million undergraduate students did not participate in conventional in-classroom learning. At-home learning was adopted during the initial peak of the pandemic as the primary alternative for in-school learning. As school closures continued, radio and television learning platforms were also adopted, especially for children from relatively wealthy homes. The government reopened schools in phases starting in September 2020 with reopening guidelines intended to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus in schools. These measures included reductions in class size, social distancing, shortened school days, and basic preventive measures such as use of hand sanitiser and hand washing.
In this Insight Note, we explore how COVID-19 and related school closures impacted Nigerian schools, parents, and students. National data collected by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2020 through a monthly phone survey show that children had extremely limited contact with the education system during this time, and that families preferred low-cost alternatives such as in-home tutoring and increased parental involvement in education to e-learning tools. Additional data collected by the RISE Nigeria Team in a survey of 73 low-cost private schools in Abuja suggest that some schools did maintain contact with students during mandated school closures, that students experienced absolute learning losses equivalent to about 5-6 months of school missed in other contexts (Cooper et al, 1996), despite participation in alternative learning activities, and that the pandemic led to severe financial hardships for schools and teachers.
Ogenyi, M. 2022. Looking back on Nigeria’s COVID-19 School Closures: Effects of Parental Investments on Learning Outcomes and Avoidance of Hysteresis in Education. RISE Insight Note. 2022/040. https://doi.org/10.35489/BSG-RISE-RI_2022/040