for the public understanding of economics and entrepreneurship

Low-cost Private Schools – Training and Research

Teacher training programme for educators in the low-cost private sector in India and Nigeria

Research Project Background

Despite the success of low-cost private education in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, governments often attempt to impede their growth and flourishing. One of the most common criticisms is that the teachers within these schools do not have the same level of training and certification as those in government schools. Critics also argue that, even though most research shows that the pupils in these schools outperform those in public schools, the quality of education remains low across both sectors.

The University of Buckingham in partnership with the Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED) in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) in Bangalore, India is developing a certificate training programme for educators in the low-cost private sector to address these twin issues of training and certification. This Certificate of Education will empower teachers and school managers and increase the quality of teaching and learning in these schools.

The training programme is part of the research project ‘Enhancing Freedom Through Quality Improvements in Low-cost Private Schools’ led by Prof. James Tooley, a champion and long-term advocate of the low-cost private sector, and is funded by the Rising Tide Foundation. You can read more about the grant on the Rising Tide’s website. Prof. Tooley is joined in this project by Andreea Dogar, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Buckingham, and David Longfield, who worked at Newcastle University with Prof. Tooley for a number of years.

Prof. Tooley said on the launch of the programme in January 2021: “I am delighted that this pilot brings together the UK’s premier private university and private education providers serving low-income communities in India and Nigeria. It’s a wonderful initiative which I know will improve the quality of teaching and learning across the developing world”.


Programme structure

The pilot stage of the programme started in January 2021 with 300 teachers and school managers in India and Nigeria. This pilot is free for the trainees. The full programme is planned to start in September 2021.

The programme lasts nine months and is delivered almost exclusively online, asynchronously on a mobile app developed by Ox Education and accessed through the trainees’ smart phones. The mobile app uses a micro-learning approach for the teaching and learning and is complemented by regular small-group or individual mentoring sessions. The curriculum covers foundational teaching knowledge and important classroom skills. It builds on a variety of learning and teaching methodologies and philosophies. The content is very practical, with teachers encouraged to apply and implement their new learning into their classrooms.

Additionally, the programme team is partnering with the Middle School MBA, to pilot an online course that provides a comprehensive, integrated understanding of business and economic freedom for the teachers enrolled in Lagos and their pupils.

Trainees Testimonies

“I joined the programme because I want to empower my skills as an educator and share that with my colleagues. It is a great professional development opportunity.”

“It has always been my dream to be a certified teacher … this course is like a dream come true … teaching isn’t just a profession for me, it is who I am, educating and moulding young minds into accomplished and great minds gives me so much joy.”

‘Thank God for the course! I have been looking for a way to get more education in a teaching line, because I had a passion to teach but not the opportunity to learn.’

‘I’ve gained a lot from this programme. Not only me, but the whole school. There’s 3 or 4 of us [teachers] on the programme, and we pass on this knowledge to the other teachers, too. We’ve implemented some of this learning into our classrooms, such as the class rules, and it has really made a difference in the school.’