eBASE, effective basic services:Mentoring Local Summary

Mentoring Local Summary

Summary of the research evidence on the impact of mentoring on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa


The text below is a summary of the research evidence on the impact of mentoring on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is an analysis of individual studies of peer tutoring on educational attainment 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 maybe thinking of better ways to improve on 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 (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGD), particularly FGD with teachers and students. 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

Mentoring can be used in education to develop young people by pairing them with older volunteers, who are sometimes from a similar background, and can act as role models to the younger mentees (Higgins, et al., 2016). Usually, it is organized to build confidence, develop resilience, character, without necessarily focusing on teaching or tutoring specific skills. Bozeman and Feeney (2007) suggest mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital and psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career or professional development; it entails informal communication, usually face to face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).

Why is the strand important?

Across many African countries, there is much emphasis on youth education and empowerment but very little on youth mentorship programs. Within some African education systems that fail to ensure most of its pupils achieve basic level qualifications and skills for the labor market, some young people may be suffering from a lack of motivation to apply themselves to school and studies. According to Udofia (2017), these difficulties may be further compounded by the lack of metorship in Africa, a type of intervention that may help prepare children and young people for life beyond school as well as the acquisition of qualifications. Mentorship can provide mentees with an increased chance of social and cultural mobility, an opportunity to consider one’s future, and inspiration from success stories that may help them rise above and beyond current challenges (Udofia, 2017).

Research Evidence in sub-Saharan Africa

The impact of mentoring on educational attainment in SSA is an under-researched topic. There is a paucity of research and literature about mentoring in SSA. An online search returned results from mainly North America with a few exceptions in South Africa (Ddiba, 2013). In addition, research has rarely explored mentoring among pre-primary, primary and secondary school pupils within the region.

However, mentoring has been included as a component of complementary interventions in other educational programs and evaluations. The BRIGHT program in Burkina Faso consisted, among others, of the construction of 132 primary schools to increase girls’ enrolment rates (Levy, et al., 2009). One among the six complementary interventions was Literacy, which had two components: Adult literacy training and mentoring for girls. While the BRIGHT program was found to significantly improve post-test scores, enrolment and attendance, the specific impact of mentoring girls was not reported. Adding mentoring to the program highlights its potential importance and possible positive impact on attainment, but further exploration is needed within the SSA context.


Generally, there is a paucity of research evidence pertaining to the impact of mentoring on educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa. Some researchers, however, have reiterated the importance of mentoring, albeit supported by qualitative studies with mostly post-secondary population. Through impact evaluations, others have recognized the positive potential of programs that include mentoring as a component of the entire intervention package. While these highlights are important, they are nevertheless insufficient in determining the effectiveness of mentoring interventions. A full-scale trial of mentoring in the Lake Chad basin is particularly is of the essence.

Impact, Security, and Cost of Evidence

The lack of robust research on the impact of mentoring on educational attainment in SSA is an evidence gap that needs to be filled. The evidence is absent nevertheless, mentoring interventions are considered relevant to the SSA context by many researchers, and therefore an urgency exists to assess its impact and fill the gap in evidence.

Associated cost of implementing a mentoring program is likely to be moderate.

Databases searched

Google scholar

Search Terms

Mentor, mentoring, mentorship, tutor, coach


Bledsoe, C. (1990). No Success Without Struggle’: Social Mobility and Hardship for Foster Children in Sierra. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

Bozeman, B., & Feeney, M. (2007). Toward a Useful Theory of MentoringA Conceptual Toward a Useful Theory of MentoringA Conceptual. Administration & Society, 733.

D’Abate, C. (2010). Developmental interactions for business students: do they make a difference? Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 17(2), 143 – 155.

Ddiba, D. I. (2013). Mentorship: A missing link in education in Sub-Saharan Africa? Education Without Borders International Students’.

Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Villanueva-Aguilera, A., Coleman, R., Henderson, P., Major , L., … Mason, D. (2016). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching & Learning Toolkit.
Durham Research Online.

Levy, D., Sloan, M., Linden, L., & Kazianga, H. (2009). Impact Evaluation of Burkina Faso’s BRIGHT Program. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Tolan, P., David, H., Michael , S., Arin, B., Peter, L., & Emily, N. (2013). Mentoring Interventions to Affect Juvenile Delinquency and Associated. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 148.

Udofia, A. H. (2017, April 02). International Policy Digest. Retrieved from https://intpolicydigest.org/20…