Determinants of educational decisions in developing countries
Project Group: Prof. Dr. P. Winker, I. Gönsch (MA Int. Econ.)
This project which is supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation aims at increasing the understanding of individual’s educational decisions in developing countries. Of particular interest is the identification of the major determinants, regarding these decisions.
There’s broad agreement that education is a key driver for the growth prospects of developing countries in the process of international convergence by means of accumulation of human capital. But, still, the growth processes of several countries in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa are hampered by low literacy rates and, partially, by low enrollment rates. On the one hand, this is due to insufficient supply of schooling facilities, especially on some rural areas in those countries. On the other hand, the fact that many children whose families live close to a school are not enrolled shows that sending your children to school is still not a matter of course for parts of the population. Additionally, the primary school sector is, in contrast to most industrialized countries, a subject of concern in less developed countries. Therefore, this project wants to provide further details regarding the determinants of schooling decisions on the individual level, paying additional attention to the familiar and municipal background. In particular, the results of a household survey, which is conducted on our own, should reveal people’s motives and preferences that lead to a particular choice of education. This also allows our study to include the role of Quranic schools which can be viewed as rivals to formal schooling in Senegal.
Up to now, the project has involved the organization and conduction of the workshop “Migration, Poverty and Education – Micro Data Studies on Haiti and Latin America” in 2009. The discussion paper “Determinants of Primary Schooling in Haiti and the Dominican Republic” has been completed in 2010. The paper is based on survey data from Haiti and the Dominican Republic which has been already available.
As a consequence of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the main research area had to be switched to West Africa, particularly to Senegal. Senegal is, like Haiti, francophone and one of the world’s least developed countries (LCDs). With only 43% its literacy rate is among the lowest in the world, according to UNICEF. Although the most recent decades showed an enormous increase in enrolment rates, only about 58% of pupils complete the six years of primary school.
In October 2010, a field trip to the region of Saint-Louis Senegal’s northernmost region has been conducted in order to prepare the household survey. The survey itself is scheduled for spring 2011 and will be conducted in the same region as the field trip. During this trip several (primary) schools have been visited in an urban as well as a rural area. In interviews with teachers, parents and principal we have gained a preliminary impression of people’s attitude towards education. For instance, which aspects of the educational system the interviewees considered to be most important. Another discussion paper based on the results of this field trip is currently at work and the results form the background for the development of the household survey.