School Fees, Parental Participation and Accountability: Evidence from Madagascar
The role of school fees in achieving both allocative and productive efficiency in the delivery of primary education has been a subject of intense debate. Building on a simple model that makes explicit the role of school fees in determining the optimal level of parental participation to school governance, this paper contributes to the debate by evaluating empirically the relationship between fees, participation and the accountability framework in public primary schools in Madagascar. The results show evidence that schools requiring parents to pay more fees experience a higher degree of parental participation. While results are consistent with the theoretical model, the empirical analysis provides evidence that school fees increase participation beyond their effect on the power relationship between the community and the school authorities. The model hypothesis that school fees modify the accountability framework, which leads to more productive participation efforts, is challenged by alternative explanations. One of them is that participation aims not to increase education quality but rather to decrease the amount of fees requested by the school.
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