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Complementary Basic Education in Ghana

Children being taught in an outdoor classroom in northern Ghana

Understanding the impact of Complementary Basic Education in Ghana

From 2012 to November 2018 the UK and US Governments are providing £27.9 million to support the Government of Ghana (GoG) to: (i) ensure that 200,000 OoSC have access to complementary basic education (CBE), with a focus on girls in particular, and: (ii) build the capacity of government to make CBE a sustainable approach to achieving universal primary enrolment; (iii) provide evidence on the long-term outcomes for out-of-school children that participate in CBE programmes and the barriers and sustainability of the programme. To achieve these goals a CBE Management Unit (MU) has been established to provide technical support to 10 Implementing Partners (NGOs) who have been sub-contracted to implement CBE at district level, and support the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to make CBE an integral part of the strategy to improve access and learning. The CBE programme operates in 5 regions and 44 districts in the Northern part of Ghana.

In collaboration with IMC Worldwide, the University of Sussex, RTI, JEAVCO Associates (in Ghana) and PAB Development Consultants (in Ghana), this project aims to provide support to the Government of Ghana, through funding obtained by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to improve our understanding of the factors that enable children’s learning in the most disadvantaged in the Northern region of the country. The project aims to evaluate the Complementary Basic Education (CBE) Programme in terms of improving children literacy and numeracy as well as enabling a sustained transition into the Public School System. In order to undertake this research, the team is tracking a cohort of children currently involved in the CBE programme for 2 years. During this time, these children should complete the full 9 months accelerated learning of the CBE programme, should have a transition into the public education and should also complete one additional year in public schools. The team is also going to trace students who have completed the CBE programme three years ago to investigate the longer term trajectories of these children, both in terms of education, labour market engagement and family formation. Finally, the research team will undertake qualitative work on the pedagogical components of the CBE programme, as well as the importance of language of instruction in CBE and public schools. Professor Pauline Rose and Dr Ricardo Sabates are members of the REAL Centre currently involved in this project. Dr Emma Carter is research associate.

Research team: 
Principal Investigator and Research Team Lead: Professor Kwame Akyeampong (University of Sussex)
International Research Team: Professor Pauline Rose, Dr Ricardo Sabates, Dr Jonathan Stern (RTI International), Dr Jennifer Presley (RTI International)
Research Management Lead: Mr Joseph James, IMC Worldwide
Researchers: Dr Emma Carter (University of Cambridge)

Country partners:

Mr. Kwasi Opoku and Mr. Elijah Yaw Danso from PAB Consult and Jeavco Associates




November 2017 – November 2019


Sabates, R., Carter, E., and Stern, J. (2020) Using educational transitions to estimate learning loss due to Covid-19 school closures: The case of Complementary Basic Education in Ghana. REAL Centre Research and Policy Paper No. 20/8.

Carter, E., Sabates, R., Rose, P., Akyeampong, K. (2020). Sustaining literacy from Mother Tongue Instruction in Complementary Education into Official Language of Instruction in Government Schools in Ghana. International Journal of Educational Development. 76.

Carter, E., Rose, P., Sabates, R., Akyeampong, K.. (2020). Trapped in low performance? Tracking the learning trajectory of disadvantaged girls and boys in the Complementary Basic Education programme in Ghana. International Journal of Educational Research, 100.

Akyeampong, K.,Higgins, S., Sabates, R., Rose, P., Carter, E. (2019). Understanding Complementary Basic Education in Ghana - Final Impact Evaluation (Submitted October 2018), Crown Copyright: Department for International Development. Report published by DFID under Development Tracker for Ghana Complementary Basic Education.

Carter, E., Sabates, R., Rose, P. 2019 Addressing transitions into public schools for children undertaking Complementary Basic Education in Ghana. Report for DFID Ghana Office (September 2018). REAL Centre, University of Cambridge:

Carter, E., Sabates, R., Akyeampong, K. 2018 Assessing the effects of English language support for children undertaking Complementary Basic Education in Ghana. Report for DFID Ghana Office (May 2018). REAL Centre, University of Cambridge.

Carter,E., Sabates, R., Rose, P. 2018  Assessing economic, educational and aspirational
trajectories five years after completing Complementary Basic Education in Ghana
. Report for DFID Ghana Office (July2018). REAL Centre, University of Cambridge.

Akyeampong, K., Carter, E., Higgins, S., Rose, P., Sabates, R., 2018 Understanding
Complementary Basic Education in Ghana: Investigation of the experiences and achievements of children after transitioning into public schools
. Report for DFID Ghana Office (November 2018). REAL Centre, University of Cambridge.


Sabates, R., and Carter, E. (2020) Estimating learning loss by looking at time away from school during grade transition in Ghana. UKFIET Blog. [27 May 2020]

Sabates, R. (2020) The Centrality of Language for Learning. The Tony Little Centre. Innovation and Research in LeEarning Blog. [22 Sept 2020].

Sabates, R. 2018. Moving beyond aid in education: The case of the complimentary basic education programme in GhanaRISE Programme