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“Effective enrolment” - Creating a composite measure of educational access and educational quality to accurately describe education system performance in sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Nicholas Spaull

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Stephen Taylor

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

In this paper we question the existing practice of reporting enrolment statistics that ignore quality, but also quality-statistics that ignore enrolment differentials. The extant literature on education in Africa is bifurcated in that reports focus either on the quality of education or on access to education, but not both. This is problematic for two reasons: 1) observing access to education without regard for the quality of that education clouds the analysis, primarily because labour-market prospects and social mobility are driven by cognitive skills acquired rather than only by years of education attained, and 2) analysing the quality of education without taking cognizance of the enrolment and dropout profiles of the countries under review is likely to bias the results due to sample selection. In the paper we propose a new composite statistic - effective enrolment - that calculates the proportion of the age-appropriate population that has reached some basic threshold of numeracy and literacy proficiency. Put simply, it is enrolment that produces learning. To do so we combine household data on enrolment (from the Demographic and Health Surveys - DHS) with survey data on cognitive outcomes (from the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality - SACMEQ III) for ten sub-Saharan African countries: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We calculate and report the effective enrolment rates for each country by gender, location and wealth quintile as well as highlighting the patterns of differential access and achievement across countries and sub-groups. As far as we are aware, these figures are the most accurate and comprehensive statistics on basic education system performance for each of the ten countries under review. Using these figures for analyses overcomes the selection bias inherent in all cross-national comparisons of educational achievement, and is far superior to simple comparisons of traditional enrolment rates. We argue that the method should be applied to all developing regions, and outline the prerequisites for doing so. The paper refocuses the discussion on education system performance in Africa by providing a composite measure of access and quality and in so doing places educational outcomes at the centre of the discourse.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Spaull & Stephen Taylor, 2012. "“Effective enrolment” - Creating a composite measure of educational access and educational quality to accurately describe education system performance in sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 21/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers174
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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2012/wp212012/wp-21-2012.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
    2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-668, September.
    3. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rose, Pauline, 2015. "Three lessons for educational quality in post-2015 goals and targets: Clarity, measurability and equity," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 289-296.
    2. Stephen Taylor & Nicholas Spaull, 2013. "The effects of rapidly expanding primary school access on effective learning: The case of Southern and Eastern Africa since 2000," Working Papers 01/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. Chris van Wyk, 2015. "An overview of Education data in South Africa: an inventory approach," Working Papers 19/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Access to education; quality of education; educational statistics; Education For All; Millenium Development Goals; SACMEQ; DHS;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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