Helpdesk Report: Education in urban contexts

This report examines education in urban areas, including urban slums



Produce a report looking at the following aspects of education in urban areas:

Context – why is this important? What are the key themes? How is urban poverty shaping education opportunities? Look at equality issues

Evidence – what is the evidence saying about the situation in urban slums? In relation to the increasing range of providers, migration, employability and labour markets. What is the evidence and where are there gaps?

Other issues – quality of education, livelihoods, almost humanitarian approach/issues in urban slums, longer term learning outcomes, urban/rural divide e.g. anecdotal acceptance that migrating to urban areas increases learning outcomes and better access to teachers but does the evidence actually say this?


Studies which find that enrolment rates are higher in urban areas than rural areas are likely to mask the high numbers of children who are out of school in urban areas. Slums often have dense populations where access to education is poor. Education is needed to break the poverty cycle in urban areas and increase employment opportunities. The importance of education for improved health in urban areas has been documented.

The literature focused on urban areas is expanding to address issues of conflict/violence, migration/demography, climate, inequality, labour mobility and other areas. However, there seems to be little focus on implications for education.

There was limited discussion of employability and labour market issues in relation to education in the urban context. More research is also needed on the range of providers and how each may contribute to improving education in urban areas.


Bolton, L.; Das, M. Helpdesk Report: Education in urban contexts. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART), Oxford, UK (2015) 21 pp.

Published 1 January 2015