Building a stronger education system in Nigeria

Monitoring and evaluation for the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN)

This nine-year project provided a framework to support the more efficient and effective delivery of education services in Nigeria. The lack of robust systems for gathering performance data at the school-level has limited the scope and impact of sector reforms in the country to date.

We developed a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing the impact of DFID’s Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) based on an impact evaluation survey methodology designed to accommodate a number of follow-up surveys over the programme’s lifetime. In addition, the team worked with state-level education authorities to strengthen monitoring and evaluation and public financial management functions. Capacity-building activities, including formal training and on-the-job mentoring, supported the sustainable adoption of new systems and processes that are compatible with existing technology and skill sets.


Many schools in Nigeria fail to provide even basic opportunities for learning. The education sector is characterised by weak governance and ineffective implementation of policies and plans compounded by a lack of transparency and accountability. Teaching standards are low and there is little motivation for teachers to improve.

ESSPIN aimed to address these issues by encouraging more efficient and effective use of Nigeria’s own resources to improve basic education service delivery. The programme supported initiatives at all levels - in schools, communities, and within state and federal authorities.

Our approach

At the state level, we worked with Ministries of Education and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) to build capacity within monitoring and evaluation and public financial management functions. This was achieved through formal training workshops and on-the-job mentoring to build on existing skillsets. Participatory approaches were adopted to promote stakeholder engagement and support the effective and sustainable implementation of new systems and processes including management information systems.

At the school level, the team designed and conducted impact evaluation surveys to quantify programme performance based on a number of education improvement indicators. In the first round of the survey, schools were stratified according to programme phase with those schools not supported by ESSPIN providing a control group to measure impact against over the lifetime of the programme.

Specific areas of work being undertaken include:

  • designing and conducting two rounds of an impact evaluation survey based on composite questionnaires and a two-staged sampling strategy covering teachers and pupils across over 700 schools;
  • designing, developing, and implementing an Education Management Information System (EMIS) to support state-level evidence gathering and informed policymaking;
  • supporting the development of Annual Education Sector Performance Reports based on robust data;
  • developing innovative capacity indices to support state-level resource allocation decisions; and
  • coordinating and conducting training workshops and providing on-the-job support within state governments.


This project provided a framework for the effective monitoring and evaluation of ESSPIN over its lifetime. Insights from the two rounds of the surveys are contributing to a better understanding of the programme’s impacts at the school level, and of learning outcomes and teacher development in Nigeria generally. It has helped to inform both external donors but also the federal and state-level ministries of education about what will be needed to ensure all children have access to meaningful learning in Nigeria.

At the state level, the project supported the strengthening of education planning and budgetary systems based on robust, timely evidence. Over the longer-term, the adoption of models of budgeting based on outputs will support the move towards more efficient, cost-effective model of education service delivery in Nigeria.

Download the overall findings and technical report of ESSPIN composite survey (2012).

Areas of expertise