The text below is a summary of the research evidence on the impact of Extending School Time on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa. The information here is valuable for African school leaders, administrators, and policy makers. It is even more valuable for parents who may be thinking of better ways to improve the educational attainment of their children.
Effective Basic Services (eBASE) Africa developed this summary using available research evidence while also taking into consideration prominent themes arising from key informant interviews (KII) and focus group discussions (FGD), particularly FGD with teachers and students. This implies the presence and participation of all key stakeholders; the policy makers, the implementers, or enforcers of policy and the beneficiaries. The research evidence in this summary is acquired from a detailed and replicable search protocol used on a wide range – listed below – of research databases for related studies in low- and middle-income countries in general and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
Definition of Strand
Extending school time refers to extending core teaching and learning time in schools and the use of targeted before and after school programmes to improve learner’s outcomes. (Higgins et. al., 2016).
Why is this strand important
The learning time spent in school varies greatly among schools in SSA. Spending more time in schools gives teachers the opportunity to deliver more teaching and learning and help students with learning difficulties catch up on lessons. There are several factors that affect time spent in schools in SSA. These include conflict, epidemics, shortage of teachers, lack of teacher motivation, poor infrastructure and other barriers. Adjusting schooling hours may have serious ramifications for teachers, students, school administration, and parents as it can impact student and family schedules, transportation arrangements, and the school curriculum. This strand is therefore important as it will highlight the effects of extending the normal school hours and enable governments and school authorities to make informed decisions when considering extending school hours.
Summary of the research in Sub-Saharan Africa
The impact of extending school time on learners’ educational achievement has rarely been explored in SSA despite a rise in the overall number of impact evaluations addressing this intervention. In Ethiopia, (Orkin, 2013) used the difference-in-difference (DID) design to evaluate the effects of lengthening the school day on children’s achievement. The study findings suggest large, positive effects on writing and mathematics scores, but not in reading, and larger effects recorded for girls than boys.
Further qualitative surveys revealed that a majority of teachers, principals, regional and national officials in Ethiopia believed that increasing school time, particularly instructional time, improved schooling quality. Among other factors, an increase in instructional time enabled teachers to ‘better prepare their curriculum, properly explain concepts using numerous instruction methods, and provided children with more in-class time-on-task to assimilate concepts and practice skills.’ (Orkin, 2013)
A number of factors have been identified as causes for a reduced instructional time received by African students appreciably owing to diverse conditions and complex pressures faced by the education systems in this region. These include school closure or unstable schooling as a result of conflicts, natural disasters or climatic conditions, poor school infrastructure, overcrowding, and double-shift policies. Teacher and headteacher absenteeism or lateness is another issue. Some rural schools that have difficulties filling teacher posts and maintaining the commitment of teachers posted in these areas.
Overall, there is a lack of high quality studies measuring the impact of extending school time in Africa. This highlights a huge gap in research as this intervention has the potential of improving learner’s outcomes.
There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of Extending School Time on student attainment in SSA despite its potential of improving student outcomes as highlighted within global evidence.
The sole study found within the SSA region suggests that extending the school day leads to improved student performance in writing and mathematics, with an even larger effect on girls than on boys.
At times schools within the continent experience reduced school hours due the complex and diverse conditions within the region including conflict, natural disasters, lack of teacher commitment, poor infrastructure, and poor policies.
There is a need for more robust research in this area to inform policymakers on the impact of Extending School Time on the educational attainment of children and young people.
Impact, Security, and Cost of Local Evidence
There is very limited local evidence regarding the impact of extending school time on educational attainment. The available evidence however, suggests promising outcomes. More rigorous studies as well as a synthesis of the existing evidence are therefore recommended.
The cost of extending school time is likely to be very low.
Extending School time, Increased School hours, School timing, extra school hours, extra school time, longer school hours” OR “extra class time, extending class time, instructional time, modified school calendars, longer school year, longer school day, after-school programmes, extended/expanded school day/year, web-based learning
Web of Science
Education Research Complete
Taylor and Francis
Orkin, K. (2013). The effect of lengthening the school day on children’s achievement in Ethiopia. Young Lives.