Stumbling at the first step: Efficiency implications of poor performance in the foundational first five years
This paper highlights patterns in school enrollment indicators that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of education systems in a set of low-income countries: those that have expanded access quickly in the last decade or two, but have not yet absorbed that expansion efficiently. Although the patterns in these indicators are observable in the first few years of schooling, they could constitute a cause of low learning outcomes at the end of primary school. The data show strong empirical relationships between an early primary enrollment bulge, low levels of pre-primary participation, and poor performance on early grade cognitive skills. This work does not attribute causal precedence to these patterns but instead argues that the indicators are reflections of each other, constituting a “knot” of issues undermining the foundations of the affected education systems. The article presents some of the cost implications and suggests that many countries are already paying for pre-primary education without realizing it.
KeywordsRepetition Over-enrollment Early childhood Efficiency Reading Primary school completion
- Barnett, S. W., & Nores, M. (2012). Investment and productivity arguments for ECCE. In P. T. M. Marope & Y. Kaga (Eds.), Investing against evidence: The global state of early childhood care and education (pp. 73–90). Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002335/233558E.pdf.
- Bernard, J.-M., Simon, O., & Vianou, K. (2007). Repeating: An African school mirage? Prepared for the Conference of Ministers of Education in Countries Sharing the French Language (CONFEMEN), Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC). Dakar: CONFEMEN Permanent Technical Secretariat.Google Scholar
- Black, M. M., Walker, S. P., Fernald, L. C. H., Andersen, C. T., DiGirolamo, A. M., Lu, C., McCoy, D. C., et al. & Grantham-McGregor, D. (2016). Early childhood development coming of age: Science through the life course. Prepared for the Lancet Early Childhood Development Series Steering Committee. The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31389-7.
- Burundi Institut de Statistiques et d’Études Économiques [Burundi Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies] (2008). Enquête Nationale d’Évaluation des Conditions de vie de l’Enfant et de la Femme au Burundi-2005 [National survey of children’s and women’s living conditions in Burundi—2005]. Bujumbura: Institut de Statistiques et d’Études Économiques.Google Scholar
- Chapman, D. W. (2002). A review of evaluations of UNICEF education activities, 1994–2000. UNICEF working paper prepared for the Office of Evaluation and Programme Planning. New York, NY: UNICEF. http://www.unicef.org/spanish/evaldatabase/index_14356.html.
- Crouch, L. (2011). Gap analysis: Education information and education policy and planning in Mozambique. Final report. Prepared under the Education Data for Decision Making (EdData II) project, Task Order No. EHC-E-11-04-00004 (RTI Task 11). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.Google Scholar
- Crouch, L., & Gove, A. (2011). Leaps or one step at a time: Skirting or helping engage the debate? The case of reading. In J. Hawkins & J. Jacob (Eds.), Policy debates in comparative, international and development education (pp. 155–174). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230339361_9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Engle, P. L., Fernald, L. C. H., Alderman, H., Behrman, J., O’Gara, C., Yousafzai, A., et al. (2011). Strategies for reducing inequalities and improving developmental outcomes for young children in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet, 378(9799), 1339–1353. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60889-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (2010). Education sector development plan 2010/2011–2014/2015. Addis Ababa: Federal Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
- Filmer, D., Hasan, A., & Pritchett, L. (2006). A millennium learning goal: Measuring real progress in education. Working paper 97. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, World Bank.Google Scholar
- GPE [Global Partnership for Education] (2012). Results for learning report 2012: Fostering evidence-based dialogue to monitor access and quality in education. Washington, DC: GPE. http://www.dmeforpeace.org/educateforpeace/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/06022014_FOSTERING-EVIDENCE-BASED-DIALOGUE-TO_Global-Partnership-for-Education.pdf.
- Hungi, N. (2010). What are the levels and trends in grade repetition? Policy Issues Series 5. Paris: Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)/UNESCO IIEP.Google Scholar
- Klein, R., & Costa, S. (1991). O censo educational e o modelo de fluxo: O problema da repetencia [The education census and the flow model: The problem of repetition]. Revista Brasileira de Estatística, 57(197), 5–45.Google Scholar
- Lao Ministry of Health & Lao Statistics Bureau (2012). Lao social indicator survey 2011–2012. http://dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-fr268-other-final-reports.cfm.
- Malawi National Statistical Office & UNICEF (2008). Malawi multiple indicator cluster survey 2006, final report. Lilongwe, Malawi: National Statistical Office and UNICEF.Google Scholar
- Mozambique Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas (2009). Inquérito de indicadores múltiplos 2008 [Multiple indicator survey 2008]. Maputo: Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas.Google Scholar
- Mozambique Ministry of Education (2012). Education strategic plan 2012–2016. Maputo: Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
- OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] (2014). PISA 2012 results in focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know. Paris: PISA, OECD. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf.
- Pratham [Pratham Education Foundation] (2013). The national picture. New Delhi: ASER Centre. http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Publications/ASER%20Reports/ASER_2013/ASER2013_report%20sections/thenationalpicture.pdf.
- Pratham (2014). Annual status of education report 2013, rural. Provisional report. New Delhi: ASER Centre. http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Publications/ASER%20Reports/ASER_2013/ASER2013_reports%20sections/aser2013fullreportenglish.pdf.
- Pritchett, L. (2013). The rebirth of education: Schooling ain’t learning. Washington, DC: CGD Books.Google Scholar
- Rao, N., Sun, J., Wong, J. M. S., Weekes, B., Ip, P., Shaeffer, S., et al. (2014). Early childhood development and cognitive development in developing countries: A rigorous literature review. Hong Kong: Department for International Development.Google Scholar
- Schiefelbein, E., & Wolff, L. (1993). Repetition and inadequate achievement in primary schools in Latin America: Magnitudes, causes, relationships and strategies. Santiago, Chile: UNESCO Bulletin of the Principal Project in Education.Google Scholar
- South Africa Department of Education (2005). Education statistics in South Africa at a glance in 2003. http://www.dhet.gov.za/DHET%20Statistics%20Publication/DoE%20Stats%20at%20a%20Glance%202003.pdf.
- South Africa Ministerial Committee (South Africa Ministerial Committee on Learner Retention in the South African Schooling System) (2008). No title. Pretoria: Department of Education.Google Scholar
- Statistics South Africa (2003). General household survey 2003. Database.Google Scholar
- Uganda Ministry of Education (2011). Uganda education statistical abstract 2011. Kampala: Ministry of Education. http://www.education.go.ug/files/downloads/Education%20Abstract%202011.pdf.
- UNESCO (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all. Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Paris: UNESCO. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Documents/gmr-2013-14-teaching-and-learning-education-for-all-2014-en.pdf.
- UNESCO (2015). Education for all 2000–2015: Achievements and challenges. Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Paris: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf.
- Uwezo (n.d.). Uwezo East Africa 2012 report findings. http://www.uwezo.net/uwezo-east-africa-2012-report-findings.
- Uwezo and Hivos/Twaweza, East Africa (2012). Are our children learning? Literacy and numeracy across East Africa. Nairobi: Uwezo East Africa at Twaweza. http://www.uwezo.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RO_2012_UwezoEastAfricaReport.pdf.
- Uwezo and Hivos/Twaweza, East Africa (2013). Are our children learning? Literacy and numeracy across East Africa. Nairobi: Uwezo East Africa at Twaweza. http://www.uwezo.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2013-Annual-Report-Final-Web-version.pdf.
- Uwezo and Hivos/Twaweza, East Africa (n.d.). Are our children learning? Literacy and numeracy across East Africa 2013. Nairobi: Uwezo East Africa at Twaweza. http://www.uwezo.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2013-Uwezo-East-Africa-Report-Summary.pdf.
- What Works Clearinghouse (2015). Procedures and standards handbook, version 3.0. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/referenceresources/wwc_procedures_v3_0_standards_handbook.pdf.
- Yoshikawa, H., & Kabay, S. (2015). The evidence base on early childhood care and education in global contexts. Background paper for UNESCO 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. New York: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002324/232456e.pdf.
- Young, M. E. (2014). Addressing and mitigating vulnerability across the life cycle: The case for investing in early childhood. UNDP Human Development Office Occasional Paper. New York, NY: UNDP.Google Scholar