Evaluation Report of the Speed School in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger

About the publication

  • Published: July 2014
  • Series: --
  • Type: NGO reviews
  • Carried out by: Innovations for Poverty Action
  • Commissioned by: Strømmestiftelsen
  • Country: Mali
  • Theme: Education and research
  • Pages: 92
  • Serial number: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organization: Strømme Foundation
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.


The Strømme Foundation created a Speed School program to respond to the high percentage of out-of-school children in the West Africa region. The educational program was developed by education curriculum experts and aims to provide out-of-school children aged 8-12 with an accelerated nine-month curriculum, and to ultimately transfer them into the primary school system.


The purpose of the evaluation was to rigorously test the impact of Speed School and determine its effects on students’ educational achievement, parental perceptions of school, and continuation with schooling. The evaluation also measured the cost effectiveness of the intervention.


Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) as part of a study funded by the Hewlett Foundation. The impact evaluation took place over a period of three years with a baseline survey in August 2012, a mid-term survey in November 2013 and a final survey in July 2014.

Key findings

The most important outcome of the study is the data collected on out-of-school children that took part of the Speed School program. Researchers on the project found that mathematics, French, and cognitive skills improved dramatically for students that completed the Speed School program. Results show that Speed School is a powerful tool that can quickly increase learning of children formerly out-of-school. However, attrition was an issue with 11% of children in the Speed School program dropping out before completing the 9-month course. In absolute terms, the Speed School program had a large effect on learning for both subjects - i.e. 42% for French and 25% for mathematics. Although the improvements gained in French were higher, the Speed School students still were not able to “catch up” to the educational levels of children already in school. In math, despite the lower increase in skills compared to French, students were able to “catch up” to the level of their peers already in school.

Data analysis shows a differentiated effect of the Speed School program on boys and girls, particularly in mathematics. Dynamic analysis revealed that test-scores in mathematics systematically increase more for boys than for girls. This two-tiered learning process is visible both in the context of Speed School centres as well as in public schools in our sample. This finding has important consequences on the organisation of Speed School curricula in future program replications, as special attention should be paid to the way that girls receive math instructions and learn and retain that knowledge.

Overall, the Speed School program gives a second chance to pupils that find themselves excluded from school system and that may easily fall in the trap of the so-called worst forms of child labour. In a context such as Mali, the study raises questions about the potential impact of such initiative on the prevalence of child labour.

The study also tracked what happened to Speed School students after they integrated into public schools through attendance and grades. The data show that the majority of students are adapting well to their new school environment, as their average grades are close to their public school peers. However, there was a 25% dropout rate[1] for Speed School students at the end of the first year of public school. This rate is in line with other remedial education programs that have been implemented in rural areas. It is important to conduct additional research to identify the causes of this phenomenon.

In addition, the she study looked at the indirect effect of Speed School (spillovers). Discussions had put forward the possibility that this program could have negative or positive effects on students who are already in schools. This may be a consequence of increased class size after Speed School students were reintegrated into public schools (i.e. negative effect). Alternatively, the insertion of new students leaving Speed School centres with higher capacities than those of students already in school might yield a positive effect on the system. The analysis

carried out shows that there is no impact of the Speed School program on previously enrolled public school children.

With regard to the cost effectiveness, it was hard to make comparisons as researchers lacked estimates for similar programs. However, it seems clear that scaling at regional or national level should be followed by a reduction of costs, thanks to economies of scale.


In conclusion, the impact evaluation confirms that Speed School is a successful program designed to reintegrate out of school children into the formal public schools system. However, there are challenges to improve its functioning, especially when considering scale-up.

Reassessing the curricula might be beneficial in order to keep into consideration the differentiated learning effects between boys and girls in mathematics and French.

Reducing drop-out rates after the first year in the primary schools should similarly become a priority of the program to make sure that its benefits are long-lasting.

[1] Drop-out rate is calculated as the proportion of children abandoning school after one year of reintegration in school, divided by the total number of children having reintegrated school

Published 01.07.2016
Last updated 01.07.2016