Primary education expansion and quality of schooling: evidence from TanzaniaISER Internal Seminars

The past two decades have seen many poor countries remove user fees in primary education in order to increase enrollment. These policies have largely succeeded in doing so, sometimes within a very short period of time. In Tanzania, the net enrollment rate went from 53% in 2000 to 97% in 2006, coinciding with the removal of primary school fees announced in 2001. The question which this paper aims to answer is that of whether the quality of education received in schools has been affected by this large increase in enrollment. Regions whose post-reform primary-school age population was larger relative to the pre-reform school-age population experienced larger primary enrollment growth rates, independently of the potentially endogenous response of the regional enrollment rate to the school fee reform. This allows me to use an instrumental variable approach to address the issue of endogeneity of regional enrollment growth. I find that enrollment growth has led to large increases in the pupil-teacher ratio (an increase by 7.5 pupils for an increase in enrollment growth by one standard deviation) and a worsening of average teacher quality as captured by a test of subject-specific knowledge. Access to pupil-specific physical inputs was little affected and classroom equipment may have improved somewhat, suggesting that the capitation grant accompanying the reform was effective in maintaining access to physical inputs. Consistent with previous literature, I find that these changes in teacher and non-teacher inputs had little effect on test scores. The lower bounds of the 95% confidence intervals imply that an increase in enrollment growth by 1 standard deviation led at most to a decrease in the reading (math) scores by 0.16 (0.18) of a standard deviation, which corresponds roughly to a move of 5 percentiles down the distribution of test scores. In other words, I cannot rule out a small deterioration in the quality of the learning environment for the average pupil, but I can rule out a substantial worsening of quality.

Presented by:

Christine Valente (University of Bristol)

Date & time:

2 Jul 2014 11:00 am - 2 Jul 2014 12:00 pm

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