School closures and educational attainment in Ethiopia: can extra classes help children to catch up?

Fiona Carmichael, Christian Darko, Shireen Kanji, Nicholas Vasilakos

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School closures impact children’s attainment adversely but understanding the effects of closures on children’s attainment in lower income countries is still limited. Addressing this deficit, this study examines how past school closures have impacted children’s educational attainment in Ethiopia. The study uses individual student level data from the Young Lives School Survey and standardised test scores in mathematics and language recorded at the start and end of the school year to model children’s attainment. Multiple regression with propensity score matching is used to analyse how attainment over the school year is impacted by school closures for a matched sub-sample of 4,842 students. The effectiveness of additional classes to make up for lost learning is also evaluated. Past school closures have had a detrimental effect on attainment in mathematics, but not literacy. Extra classes, specifically those that families do not pay for have helped children in the past to recuperate lost learning and could serve this function post-Covid-19. Inequalities in learning outcomes, measured by Gini coefficients in educational attainment, are widened by school closures. Applying these results to the extensive school closures under Covid-19 furthers our understanding of the likely effects on academic attainment and can inform policy to mitigate the impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-664
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number4
Early online date22 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. British Educational Research Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association.


  • educational attainment
  • Ethiopia
  • extra classes
  • school closures


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