Abstract: Understanding the Causal Link between Supplementary Tutoring Expenditures and Learning Outcomes (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Understanding the Causal Link between Supplementary Tutoring Expenditures and Learning Outcomes

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Hospitality 1 - Room 443, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
David Ansong, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Emmanuel Owusu Amoako, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Jamal Appiah-Kubi, Mphil, Doctoral Candidate, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University, Turkey
Moses Okumu, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Isaac Koomson, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia
Solomon Achulo, MSc, Student, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background: Over the years, various concerted investments in education as a development priority in Africa have contributed to improved access to education, but this has not translated into a concomitant improvement in children’s performance and learning outcomes. In many resource-constrained countries like Ghana, multilevel efforts to bridge the performance gap often includes households’ own investments in education through private supplementary teaching (PST). However, there are conflicting views on the effects of PST expenditures. While some view it as a means of addressing inequities in learning outcomes, others think it escalates existing inequalities. Such polarizing views necessitated studies to provide context-specific empirical data and hence serve clarity in the discourse on PST. Grounded in rational choice theory (which explains decisions to invest in education) and asset-effect theory (which explains the effects of investments on educational outcomes), this study examines the effects of financial investments in PST on learning outcomes and investigates whether PST’s effects are heterogeneous across a child’s gender and locality indicators associated with poverty.

Methods: The study uses data from the seventh round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS-7). In all, 2,095 households that met the two inclusion criteria—(a) attending school in the past 12 months, and (b) being at least 11 years of age at the time of data collection, were selected for this study. Ordinary least squares (OLS), instrumental variables analyses (IV), propensity score matching (PSM), and the Lewbel procedure were used to test the effects of PST expenditures on academic performance in Math, English, French, and Native languages. Child- and household-level covariates were accounted for in the adjusted instrumental variable analyses based on prior findings of their association with schooling expenditure or learning outcomes in the Ghanaian context.

Results: Findings from the OLS estimates indicate that financial investment in PST positively influences children's academic performance. For example, an increase in expenditure on PST was significantly associated with an increase in the ability to do Math (β=0.004, SD=0.051, p<.01), read a native language (β=0.006, SD=0.075, p<.01), read English and French (β=0.005, SD=0.055, p<.05). Findings from the IV analyses also indicated a positive association between PST and academic performance, especially in Math (β=0.007, SD= 0.095, p<.01), reading English and French language (β= 0.008, SD= 0.082, p<.05), writing English and French Language (β=0.009, SD=0.088, p<.05). The effect of financial investment on PST was more significant for boys’ learning outcomes than girls’ academic performance.

Conclusions & Implications: Although PST can significantly improve children’s learning outcomes per the causal analyses, it can hugely affect resource-limited families who cannot afford quality PST. With the lack of basic educational services, which festers inequity in educational access, parents are compelled to invest in PST as they seek to foster children’s academic performance. Therefore, governments and stakeholders have a role in facilitating equity in educational access and learning outcomes.