Developing Effective Private Education Nigeria (DEEPEN) is a five-year programme funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The programme seeks to improve the quality of education in private schools, especially those serving children from low-income households. It is a programme driven by the demand of parents and children for a better education.
DEEPEN aims to improve the learning outcomes of children attending private schools, in particular those from low-income families. DEEPEN will achieve this by facilitating a more enabling environment for private schools and a more effective market for them to offer an increased quality of education.
Private Education in Lagos
Private schools are a major player on the Lagos education scene, dominating at the pre-primary and primary levels. Over 1 million children are now enrolled in at least 15,000 private schools. The future prosperity and growth of Lagos depends on the success of this market. However, only a quarter of these private schools are formally approved and the quality of education they offer as a whole remains unclear and thus open to doubt.
Although private education is often seen as elite, many of these schools actually serve the poor. While government schools remain important, they alone cannot cope with the ever-growing demand.
Research suggests that the main problem in low-cost private education is the relatively low quality of learning outcomes achieved. For Lagos to progress both socially and economically, this challenge must be addressed. This means developing a more ‘enabling environment’ for private schools: one that sets the right incentives for schools to improve their quality and allows them to build their capacity to offer a better service.
There is no formula for what such an ‘enabling environment’ contains.
However, research in Lagos suggests that an enabling environment is one in which
- The framework of rules and standards pertaining to schools provides a practical, consistent and fair way for them – and others – to assess their facilities, services and learning performance…read more.
- The main players – parents, schools, government, banks – can access timely and accurate information to help improve their roles/services, and lead to better decision-making…read more.
- Innovative approaches to school improvement such as teacher training and school management advice are relevant, available and tied to improved learning outcomes…read more.
- Finance providers are able to offer services which best address the specific conditions facing a large proportion of schools and parents, leading to improved cash flow for both parties…read more.
DEEPEN will be guided by these core indicators and also will remain flexible to accommodate wider changes across the education market to ensure that interventions continue to be targeted where they are needed most.
The Vision for Private Education
By the conclusion of the programme in 2018, we anticipate
- a vibrant and dynamic market for private education, especially in low-cost schools across Lagos.
- private schools that respond to parental demands and adapt to meet their demands for better education