Africa-led Research

African Research for Transforming Education

Africa-led Research

African research can be used to improve education at all levels and other issues in society. But research outputs are disproportionately small in comparison to other continents. They are also dispersed across a wide range of outlets and not easily accessible.  We want to change this.

Step one was to build a partnership with the REAL Centre at University of Cambridge, to map existing evidence-based research, of relevance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on education, produced by researchers based in sub-Saharan Africa.

It can be hard to find African research on education and even harder for African researchers to get their work published and to achieve awareness and influence. With the REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge, we created an interactive database called the African Education Research Database, in English, French and Swahili, for Research on Education in sub-Saharan Africa by African scholars. 

African Education Research Database


If you would like to suggest studies to include in the African Education Research Database please download the submission form below and return via email. 

Download submission form

Submit studies for inclusion

This resource allows us and others to identify common themes, to review and evaluate the literature, discover strong findings and research gaps. This will inform evidence-based policy and practice. 

We have also built a partnership with the Association of Ivorian Research on Education (AIRE, Association Ivorienne de Recherche en Education) in order to map research on education in Côte d'Ivoire.


  • To raise the visibility and accessibility of African-based education research. 

  • Review and evaluate the literature to identify common themes, strong findings and research gaps. 

  • To promote the use of African research in education policy and practice.

  • To publish blogs and papers to promote African education research.  

  • To identify partners for future research to fill in the gaps in existing research.

  • To build a community of researchers for influencing change in education.

There are consultations on-going with researchers across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. This will ensure the utility of project outputs and their legacy beyond the lifetime of the project and lay the foundations for future research partnerships.

Take a look at the REAL Centre for publications and blogs around the database.


REAL Centre, University of Cambridge

The Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre is one of the world’s top research institutions on education.

The REAL Centre is collaborating with ESSA to build a strong network of education researchers in sub-Saharan Africa, including those specialising in early childhood development, foundational literacy and numeracy. ESSA and the REAL Centre collaborated in 2017 to create the African Education Research Database, which now contains over 5,000 peer-reviewed publications on education produced by African education researchers.

The Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre

Logo: The Jacobs Foundation
The Jacobs Foundation

The Jacobs Foundation has a main focus on the promotion of child and youth development all over the world. Seeing the value of ESSA’s partnership with the REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge to promote African researchers, the Jacobs Foundation was a key funder of that work.

As a significant foundation in the education space, the Jacobs Foundation supported ESSA in building its profile and relationships in West Africa.

The Jacobs Foundation