Can sport for development programs improve educational outcomes? A rapid evidence assessment

  • 1 German Sport University, , Cologne, Germany


Over the last 20 years, sport for development (SFD) has become an increasingly used tool to tackle education-related challenges around the world and has even become recognized by major international institutions such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth. In spite of this, evidence on the effectiveness of SFD programs on educational outcomes is limited. Through a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA), this paper seeks to begin addressing this gap. Literature is included if it quantitatively examines the relationship between participation in a SFD program and educational outcomes, namely academic performance, school attendance, or attitudes and behaviors related to school. Results are then organized and presented according to these aforementioned areas. The identified literature paints a mixed picture of SFD’s impact on educational outcomes related to academic performance and school attendance, though the data related to improved attitude and behavior is more positive. Overall, the lack of research on this topic and the deficiencies in some of the identified studies do not allow for the conclusion that SFD generates positive education-related outcomes. This paper concludes by proposing potential solutions to address this gap in research.

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