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Reading between the lines: A closer look at the effectiveness of early childhood education policy to reduce inequality in Argentina

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  • Paglayan, Agustina S.

Abstract

This study looks at Argentina’s early childhood education policy, to determine whether it “ensures quality education and equal opportunities, without regional disparities and socio-economic inequities” –the main purpose of education policy in that country. In particular, the study examines how public kindergartens’ effect on children’s early literacy development compares to the effect of their alternative, private kindergartens. Panel data collected between 2004 and 2006 by Argentina’s urban household survey is used to estimate a logit model for the probability of knowing how to read and write by the end of first grade. Estimations take into consideration the complex design of the survey data employed. The validity of the results obtained is further checked by the use of quasi-experimental econometric techniques. The study finds that, net of important individual, family, community and geographic characteristics, attending a public kindergarten has some effect on the probability that a child will know how to read and write by the end of first grade, but attending a private kindergarten has a more substantial effect on this probability. The difference between public and private kindergartens is found to be larger in the poorest regions of the country, as well as among the poorest families. In turn, the analysis finds that knowing how to read and write by the end of first grade reduces the probability of repeating that grade. These findings are relevant to education policymaking in Argentina, where efforts have focused on expanding the coverage of preschool services, largely disregarding that there is a fundamental problem of unequal opportunities among children in terms of access to high-quality early childhood education. Specific policy recommendations that could improve the quality of public preschools are suggested, taking into account the political difficulty to introduce profound reforms in the education system.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 17899.

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Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision: May 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17899

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Keywords: early childhood education; Argentina; education quality; public preschool; private preschool; education inequality;

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  1. Schady, Norbert, 2006. "Early childhood development in Latin America and the Caribbean," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3869, The World Bank.
  2. Berlinski, Samuel & Galiani, Sebastian, 2007. "The effect of a large expansion of pre-primary school facilities on preschool attendance and maternal employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 665-680, June.
  3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Samuel Berlinski & Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler, 2006. "The Effect of Pre-Primary Education on Primary School Performance," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp838, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  5. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
  6. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
  7. Jere R. Behrman & Yingmei Cheng & Petra E. Todd, 2004. "Evaluating Preschool Programs When Length of Exposure to the Program Varies: A Nonparametric Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 108-132, February.
  8. Ruthanne Deutsch, 1998. "How Early Childhood Interventions Can Reduce Inequality: An Overview of Recent Findings," IDB Publications 50998, Inter-American Development Bank.
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