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3ie ~ International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

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Ready for School

Nov. 20, 2012
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)


In Mozambique, only 4 out of 100 children go to preschool and very few programmes are available in rural areas where poverty is more acute. Existing evidence shows that investment in education early in life gives children a head start, and has effects on their immediate well-being and future prospects. But such evidence is not available from Africa. Are effective pre-school interventions viable in poor rural African communities?

A randomised control trial was conducted to assess the effectiveness of Save the Children’s preschool programme on children’s enrolment and readiness for primary school in rural Mozambique. This study is funded by 3ie and the World Bank Spanish Impact Evaluation Fund and is the first evaluation of an early childhood development programme in Africa.

The first issue of Evidence in Brief draws on the key findings of this 3ie supported impact evaluation.

Key findings

Children who attended preschool:

  • Are more likely to enrol in primary school at the right age. They spend more time on schooling and less time working on the family farm.
  • Show large improvements in cognitive and problem solving abilities, fine motor skills and social behaviour.
  • Are less prone to diarrhea and skin problems, though there is no evidence of positive impacts on nutrition.
  • Their siblings are more likely to go to primary school.
  • Their caregivers show improvements in parenting practices and an increase in parents' employment.

Policy impact

As a result of these findings, the Ministry of Education in Mozambique is now planning to
extend community-based preschools to 600 communities. Early childhood education was included in the country's 2012-2016 national education plan. The government has also created a national early childhood development commission.