eBASE, effective basic services:Summer School Local Summary

Summer School Local Summary

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


The text below is a summary of the research evidence on the impact of summer school on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is an analysis of individual studies of summer school 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

Summer schools are lessons and or classes taken during the summer holidays that can be designed as catch-up programs (Higgins, et al., 2016). In SSA, summer schools mostly referred to as holiday classes. These are classes or lessons conducted when regular schools are not in session, often added to the third term or hosted during long holidays (usually between June and August). These classes or lessons are aimed to help underachieving pupils who performed averagely or poorly in studies during the normal learning period. Though the main motive of holiday classes is to improve educational outcomes, some holiday classes focus only on sports and other non-educational activities.

Why is this strand important?

Within SSA, summer schools are of importance as they can help pupils catch up on the previous year’s work, and as well prepare for the upcoming year.

Research Evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa

There is high quality evidence from meta-analysis on the impact of summer school on educational outcomes of pupils in the developed countries (Cooper, et al., 2000). Summer programs focused on remedial or accelerated learning or other goals have positive impact on knowledge and skills of participants, and benefitted students from middle class homes more than those from disadvantaged homes, the study revealed.

There is very limited data on its impact on the African continent. However, Cooper, et, al., (2000) reveal valuable takeaways if a Randomized Controlled trial is to be conducted within the continent.

After conducting a search in EBSCO (using all its databases), Taylor and Francis, ProQuest, and Google Scholar, no studies were found or reported on summer school or holiday classes in sub-Saharan Africa and or Middle Africa.

As such, there exist no research evidence on the impact of summer school or holiday classes on educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa. The need for robust research on this popular phenomenon is therefore urgent.

Impact, Security, and Cost of Local Evidence

There is a dearth of evidence regarding the impact of summer schools on educational attainment in SSA. The cost of a summer school program in the lake chad basin is likely to be very low.

Databases Searched

EBSCO (using all its databases)

Taylor and Francis


Google Scholar


Search Terms

Summer school, holiday classes.


Cooper, H., Charlton, K., Valentine, J., Muhlenbruck, L., & Borman, G. (2000). Making the Most of Summer School: A meta-analytic and Narrative Review. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development.

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: Durham Research Online.