Academic Achievement in Public and Private Primary Schools in Kenya
Ng’ang’a, Alice M
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Education is a component of human capital. In Kenya, primary education is provided by both the government and the private sector. Private school pupils consistently attain higher test scores than public school pupils, indicating differences in the contribution of the two sectors in the accumulation of human capital. More than 90% of all primary school pupils are enrolled in public schools. The private-public primary schools’ academic achievement (test scores) gap indicates inequalities in education attainment. This study analyzed academic achievement in public and private primary schools in Kenya using the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) cross-sectional data set of measurements of academic achievement of class six pupils in Kenya. The first essay investigated whether or not attending either a private or a public primary school leads to higher test scores. The control function approach was used to control for potential endogeneity of the school type in the education production function. The empirical evidence suggests that private school attendance has positive significant correlation with both reading and mathematics test scores. Higher quality school infrastructure and small class sizes are associated with higher test scores. The second essay decomposed the gender test score gap in mathematics in public and private primary schools using the Blinder-Oaxaca approach. Boys outperform girls in mathematics in both school types. On average, a boy scores 3.44 and 2.81 percentage points higher than a girl in a private and public primary school, respectively. In both school types, boys take better advantage of the resources more than girls, hence the girls’ score can be improved by better utilization of education resources. There are significant differences in educational resources between boys and girls in favour of girls who perform worse than boys. Thus, resource-based policies aimed at increasing girls’ mathematics scores may not necessarily close the gender gap, and may reverse the gender gap and disadvantage the boys. The third essay investigated whether or not the relationship between academic achievement and its covariates differs across the conditional test score distribution. The quantile regression results show that the positive association of the private school and test scores increases with the academic strength of the pupils. Further, academically strong pupils are more likely than the academically weak pupils to be enrolled in private schools. Thus, government policies to improve public primary schools can improve academic achievement of academically weak pupils. Key words: academic achievement, education resources, gender gaps, quantile regression, school type.
University of Nairobi
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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