Nicholas Spaull, Stellenbosch University
Stephen Taylor, Department of Basic Education
The expansion of access to schooling in developing countries has been one of the most successful social movements in recent history. The proportion of people aged 15 and over, living in developing countries, that had no schooling halved between 1980 (38%) and 2010 (17%) (Barro & Lee, 2010, p. 32). Consequently, there has also been a drastic increase in the average years of schooling, rising from 4.3 years (1980) to 7.1 years (2010). Unfortunately, learning outcomes in many of these countries can only be described as dismal. When taken together, these two outcomes prompt the question: "What is the purpose of expanding access to formal schooling?" Is it to increase the number of children frequenting a building called a "school", or is it to increase the number of students acquiring the knowledge, skills and values they need to participate in modern society? If it is the latter, then that is what we should measure...
Policy Brief link: PDF
Interview with the authors:
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What is the DPRU Policy Brief Series? The Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU)* Policy Brief series aims to encourage and support policy-relevant research on employment and jobs-related issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. This series promotes high-quality, multi-disciplinary approaches to research with an interest in original data, learning from the impacts of new policies and interventions, and broadly addressing the critical knowledge gaps that exist in this area. The Policy Brief format is condensed and accessible, where key features of substantive research are distilled by highlighting main messages and summarising the most policy-relevant findings, thus helping to bridge the gap between the academic and policy communities.
* The DPRU co-ordinates the Sub-Saharan African regional programme for the Jobs Knowledge Platform (JKP) as part of the Network for Jobs and Development (NJD). The DPRU is a University-recognised research unit located within the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town.