ICAI Reports on the Department for International Development’s education programmes in Nigeria

20 Nov 2012

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has today published a report on the the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) education programmes in Nigeria.

DFID has spent £102 million to date, with a further £126 million committed to 2019. It supports 10 of Nigeria’s 36 States through two programmes:

  • the UNICEF-led Girls’ Education Programme (GEP); and
  • the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), delivered by a Cambridge Education-led consortium.

The national environment is very challenging, with too few effective teachers, poor infrastructure and unpredictable State funding.

ICAI engaged with over 900 local people, including pupils, parents, grandparents, teachers, head teachers and community leaders. They identified only limited benefits from the education provided. Around a third of eligible children in the ten States are out of school and ICAI found no major improvement in pupil learning: 

  • GEP and ESSPIN have helped to create ten-year State education sector plans which are neither realistic nor affordable. Insufficient and erratic State funding leaves the education system lacking infrastructure and other essentials necessary to improve learning outcomes. 
  • Key education building blocks – such as adequate facilities, teachers who are present and committed, routine pupil attendance and appropriate curricula and teaching materials – are often missing from schools. 

GEP and ESSPIN are delivering similar programmes but the ESSPIN approach appears more likely to succeed in the long term. UNICEF was reappointed for the third phase of GEP without competition, which we do not believe was fully supported by the available evidence of their performance. 

There have been some successes, including support for female teachers and school-based management committees and an innovative approach to Qur’anic schools, attended by most Muslim children in northern Nigeria. Implementation issues, however, are limiting the impact on pupil learning.  


  • Overall rating: Amber-Red 
  • DFID should create a single education programme in 2014 focussing rigorously on basic reading, writing and arithmetic in the early years of primary schooling and building on the lessons learned, with aligned initiatives for teacher training and infrastructure. 
  • DFID should work with its partners and each participating State to secure a clear agreement about the policy changes and financial contributions required to improve enrolment and learning and to introduce effective financial management and resource planning.  
  • DFID should work with UNICEF to achieve significant improvement in the performance of GEP over the next 12 months.  
  • DFID should address implementation issues limiting impact through the Female Trainee Teachers Scholarship Scheme, School-Based Management Committees and Qur’anic schools.

Graham Ward CBE, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “The communities we spoke to in Nigeria want their children to become self-reliant by learning to read and write. Our review, however, indicates no major improvement in pupil learning, with significant numbers of children out of school. In our view, DFID’s programmes will only become sustainable when they can routinely help to unlock State governments’ budgets to fund the required improvements both adequately and equitably.” 

Notes to editors:

For further information please contact Tom McDonald on 020 7270 6779 or t-mcdonald@icai.independent.gov.uk

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is the independent body responsible for scrutinising UK aid. We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. For further details on ICAI, the work plan and for links to each report, please visit www.independent.gov.uk/icai.

ICAI’s Chief Commissioner is Graham Ward CBE. The three other Commissioners are Mark Foster, John Githongo and Diana Good. Their biographies can be found on the ICAI website. This report was prepared by ICAI with the assistance of KPMG LLP, Agulhas Applied Knowledge, Center of Evaluation for Global Action (CEGA) and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU International). 

ICAI Traffic Light Ratings:

  • Green: The programme performs well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Some improvements are needed.
  • Green-Amber: The programme performs relatively well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Improvements should be made.
  • Amber-Red: The programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made.
  • Red: The programme performs poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Immediate and major changes need to be made.


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