Project: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Education Interventions

In support of the Malawi Priorities project, the research team at Limestone Analytics investigated two development questions:

  • How does Malawi most effectively improve the quality of education in primary schooling?
  • How does Malawi most effectively address significant dropout rates in secondary school, particularly among girls?

The research team conducted stakeholder interviews and a comprehensive literature review to identify the most relevant challenges school children, teachers, and schools in Malawi face. In partnership with local partners, the team identified interventions that have shown promise at mitigating these barriers in either Malawi, specifically, or in similar contexts. The team conducted a cost-benefit analysis to quantify the impacts that a subset of interventions could be pursued in Malawi to improve education quality and secondary school dropout rates; which were identified as two of the most important national priorities according to a panel of experts who participated in the Malawi Priorities project. The cost-benefit analysis findings were summarized in a detailed technical report and an accompanying policy briefing note that describes the potential impact of the following interventions for Malawian policymakers:

  • Indoor classes via classroom construction
  • Reduced class sizes from hiring teachers and classroom construction
  • In-service teacher professional development 
  • School feeding
  • Technology-assisted learning
  • Community interventions / advocating delayed marriage and raising awareness of Sexual and Reproductive Health among parents and communities
BCR by the intervention (8% discount rate) – Limestone Analytics


Our analysis examines three intervention types: teacher-focused, infrastructure-focused, and student-focused interventions that are paramount to maintaining the status quo by government investment in the education sector. Of the interventions considered to improve primary school quality, technology-assisted learning has a benefit-cost ratio of more than four times the second-best intervention (teacher training) and more than ten times that of school feeding, reduced class sizes, and school construction interventions. Our report also estimated the cost-effectiveness of additional spending in education beyond the additional spending necessary to maintain the status quo—significant investments in classroom construction and new teachers are also essential for better results. 

The full report can be found here.

Clients / Partners




Desk Review


Cost Benefits Analysis


Final reporting and policy briefs