Human Development, Africa Region,
Lead Economist, Poverty Reduction, Africa Region,
Human Development Network - Education,
East Asia and Pacific Region,
Senior Advisor, Results for Development Institute
Is free primary education key for inclusive growth in low income Sub Saharan Africa? How do we know? Using a unique data set for Mozambique, this study shows that the removal of the national school fee and the provision of free textbooks in 2004, combined with a continuing program of school construction and teacher training resulted in a 70% increase in enrollment in lower primary education over 4 years, with the highest gains for the poorest and most vulnerable children, and only a slight increase in student-teacher ratios.
However, despite these efforts, there is still an education deficit. Over half of the children who began grade 1 in 2000 did not complete grade 7 by 2008. To achieve inclusive growth, the key strategic objective of the education system must be to ensure that as many children as possible start and finish primary school with competency in basic subjects and the skills that will help them find productive economic activities that will provide a better income.