Accounting for the variations in the quality of primary school education

Author(s): Hungi, Njora

Organisation(s): Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality

Date: 2011

Pages: 44 p.

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This paper reports on the use of multivariate analyses procedures to examine pupil- and school-level factors that contributed to variations in reading and mathematics achievement among Grade 6 pupils in 15 African school systems (Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, and Zimbabwe). The data for this study were collected in 2007 as part of the major SACMEQ III Project, which sought to examine the quality of education offered in primary schools in these countries. (SACMEQ is an acronym for the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality.) At the pupil level, grade repetition, socio-economic background, pupil age, and pupil sex were found to be the most important factors affecting the variations in pupil achievement in these school systems, while at the school level, school resources and school location were identified as the important common factors. South Africa and Zimbabwe were among the school systems with the largest between-school variation (especially in reading), while the Seychelles and Mauritius had the largest within-school variation. In addition, low social equity in pupil achievement was evident in South Africa, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe, while large gender differences in pupil achievement were evident in the Seychelles and to some extent in Tanzania and Kenya, especially in mathematics. Implications of the findings for policy and practice are outlined.

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