This report summarises research commissioned by DFID Nigeria in 2012 to
investigate issues of poverty and school choice in Lagos. Its objective
was to provide background information for the design of a DFID programme
in the private education sector. The programme is particularly focused
on addressing existing constraints in the low-cost private education
market, to improve the quality of education provided to all children,
and especially to poor children.
The results reveal almost universal education across the state of Lagos,
with over 98% of school-age children in the school system and an almost
equal number of girls and boys. This is a success story for Lagos State
in meeting MDG targets for primary education and gender disparities.
Income poverty and perceived higher standards in private schools are
found to be major factors influencing school choice across households
from all income groups. The results also reveal that among low-income
households, a further key factor influencing school choice is the local
supply of schools.
A strong positive relationship was found between household income and
school choice, with high levels of enrolment in both government and
low-cost private schools below the poverty line, and a sharp rise in
enrolment in high-cost private schools after the poverty line is
crossed. The majority of children from ultra-poor households are also in
private schools although at a lower rate than higher-income groups.
Ultra-poor households are also out of school at a rate five times that
of children from higher-income households.
Private schools are favoured over government schools on almost all
quality criteria. Parents’ perceptions of overcrowding and poor child
welfare appear as proxies for poor quality in government schools,
whereas policy-makers’ proxies for school quality are the numbers of
teachers who are trained. Parents are aware that teacher qualifications
are higher in government schools than private schools but still believe
government schools are of lower quality, irrespective of teacher
Low‐income urban settlements in Lagos appear to offer a range of
affordable private primary schools from which most low-income households
can choose one close to their home. This appears to be less the case for
government primary schools. However, the higher numbers of children in
private schools in Lagos are not explained by the poor supply of
government schools. While some households do appear to select private
schools because there are no government schools near their homes, all
indications are that most parents would rather send their children to
private schools because they perceive them to be better.
Some areas of Lagos offer no affordable private primary schools for
low-income households; here low-income parents are more likely to select
nearby government schools for primary age children, rather than private
schools in other neighbourhoods. The age of the child is clearly a key
factor in choosing a school close to their homes owing to the difficulty
of getting smaller children to school safely.
Further evidence suggests that the ultra-poor are most affected when
there is a limited supply of both government and low-cost private
schools in their areas. Preliminary findings indicate that ultra-poor
households there are likely to seek low-cost alternatives to private
school or keep children out of school altogether. These findings are,
however, limited and further research would be required to confirm if
this applies elsewhere across the city.
Tooley, J.; Yngstrom, I. School Choice in Lagos State - Final Summary Report. I. Yngstrom, Melbourne, Australia (2014) 29 pp.
School Choice in Lagos State - Final Summary Report