International Review of Education

, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 603–625 | Cite as

The effect of free primary education policy on late school entry in urban primary schools in Kenya

  • Moses W. Ngware
  • Moses Oketch
  • Alex C. Ezeh
  • Maurice Mutisya


Late school entry is driven by several factors, one of the key ones being the cost barrier to schooling. Policies such as free primary education (FPE) that advocate for universal coverage are therefore partly aimed at removing the cost barrier. The Kenyan Government, like many in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), introduced FPE in 2003 with the aim of universalising access to schooling, which is one of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) it signed up to achieve. Based on a case study of four sites in Nairobi, the aim of this paper is to assess whether the FPE policy has affected late enrolment. The data used were collected by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and comprise a sub-sample of 4,325 first-graders during 2000–2005. The paper applies a probit model to assess the impact of the policy on the basis of marginal effects on the predicted probability of late enrolment. The results show that the FPE policy reduces the probability of late enrolment by 14 per cent. The reduction in probability of late enrolment was greater among children residing in slums (16 per cent) than those in non-slums (9 per cent). The main implication of the findings for policy makers is that cost barriers are a likely cause of over-age enrolment.


Late school entry Free primary education (FPE) policy Urban settlement Kenya Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) 


L’impact de la politique d’enseignement primaire gratuit sur la scolarisation tardive dans les écoles primaires urbaines au Kenya – La scolarisation tardive est due à plusieurs facteurs, l’un des principaux étant l’obstacle des frais scolaires. Plusieurs politiques, telle celle de l’enseignement primaire gratuit (free primary education, FPE) qui favorise la généralisation de la scolarisation, visent donc entre autres à éliminer la barrière des coûts. Le gouvernement kényan, comme beaucoup d’autres en Afrique subsaharienne, a introduit le FPE en 2003 dans le but de généraliser l’accès à la scolarité, qui constitue l’un des huit Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) que le gouvernement s’est engagé à atteindre. À partir d’une étude de cas menée dans quatre établissements de Nairobi, les auteurs se proposent d’évaluer si la politique du FPE influe sur la scolarisation tardive. Les données exploitées ont été collectées par le centre de recherche sur la population et la santé en Afrique (African Population and Health Research Center, APHRC) et comportent un sous-échantillon de 4325 élèves inscrits en première année primaire sur la période 2000–2005. Les auteurs appliquent un modèle probit pour évaluer l’impact de la politique à partir des effets marginaux sur la probabilité anticipée de scolarisation tardive. Les résultats révèlent que la politique du FPE réduit de 14 pour cent la probabilité de scolarisation tardive. Cette réduction est plus importante chez les enfants vivant dans les bidonvilles (16 pour cent) que chez les autres élèves (9 pour cent). La principale conclusion des résultats pour les décideurs établit que l’obstacle financier est une cause probable de la scolarisation tardive.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moses W. Ngware
    • 1
  • Moses Oketch
    • 1
  • Alex C. Ezeh
    • 1
  • Maurice Mutisya
    • 1
  1. 1.African Population and Health Research CenterAPHRC Campus, 2nd Floor, Manga CloseNairobiKenya

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