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This paper examines the likely causes for deteriorating enrollment rates in Africa. While a causal link is difficult to establish, several studies suggest that declining incomes and employment opportunities impact on household schooling decisions (i.e. household demand for education). The prevalent view that deterioration in school availability and quality are responsible fore declining school enrollments in many African countries seems incomplete. One consequence of this finding is that the policy response to declining enrollments should not be restricted to building more schools and improving existing ones. Cost-reducing and demand stimulating or financing measures should be considered as well. Analytical tools can help policy-makers assess which of the costs and benefits of education impact on household schooling decisions. While a comprehensive analysis, using demand for education regressions, is impractical because of data requirement, a simple private rates of return analysis can be a second best diagnostic instrument to identify constraining factors in education demand.

Publisher: World Bank

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