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Abolishing School Fees in Malawi: The Impact on Education Access and Equity

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  • Samer Al-Samarrai
  • Hassan Zaman

Abstract

In 1994, the newly elected Government in Malawi abolished primary school fees. Using household survey data from 1990/91 and 1997/98, this paper assesses the impact this major policy change, combined with increased Government spending on education, has had on access to schooling by the poor. This paper shows that enrolment rates have increased dramatically over the 1990s, at both the primary and secondary levels, and that crucially these gains have been greatest for the poor. In order to sustain and build-on these gains the paper suggests cutting back on the informal 'contributions' that are widely prevalent in primary school and improving the allocation of secondary school funding. Furthermore, the focus of policy reform, particularly at primary level, should shift towards raising the quality of education. Finally the paper argues that careful advance planning and piloting of the reform in selected areas are useful strategies that other countries considering abolishing primary school fees could take to cope with the associated surge in enrolments.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

Volume (Year): 15 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 359-375

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Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:15:y:2007:i:3:p:359-375

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Related research

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa; Malawi; education; public expenditure; inequality;

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  1. van de Walle, Dominique, 1996. "Assessing the welfare impacts of public spending," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1670, The World Bank.
  2. Castro-Leal, Florencia & Dayton, Julia & Demery, Lionel & Mehra, Kalpana, 1999. "Public Social Spending in Africa: Do the Poor Benefit?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 49-72, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Essama-Nssah, B., 2008. "Assessing the redistributive effect of fiscal policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4592, The World Bank.
  2. Adrienne M. Lucas & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2012. "Access, Sorting and Achievement: the Short-Run Effects of Free Primary Education in Kenya," Working Papers 12-10, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  3. Jacobus de Hoop, 2010. "Selective Secondary Education and School Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Malawi," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-041/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. Jacobus de Hoop, 2010. "Selective Secondary Education and School Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Malawi," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-041/2, Tinbergen Institute.

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