Challenge and drivers of over-enrollment in the early years of primary school Uganda

Author(s): Weatherholt, Tara; Jordan, Rachel; Crouch, Luis; Barnett, Ed; Pressley, Jennifer

Date: 2019

Pages: p. 23-40

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Consistent over-enrollment, together with low official repetition rates, in the early years of school indicates inaccurate reporting of repetition, which may mask the reasons for low primary school completion. Actual repetition rates may be higher and pose issues for teachers through overcrowding of classrooms and issues for governments through inefficient education systems. This research explores repetition rates of students in Primary 1 in Uganda and considers the implications for efficiency and quality of education for the early years of school. The sample comprised 1440 students in Primary 1 classrooms in 120 schools. Interviews were conducted with 1318 caregivers of randomly selected students and 1439 teachers of the same students, and official records from 118 schools were examined to compare age and repetition rates. Findings showed that caregiver- and teacher-reported repetition is much higher than officially reported by schools; that repetition is strongly linked to non-attendance in pre-primary schooling; and that caregivers reported more over-age students, fewer target-age students, and more under-age students than official school records. Policy implications include the need for dialogue around repetition rates and the possible efficiency effects of less-costly, pre-primary education on the total primary schooling cycle.

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