Urban-rural literacy gaps in sub-Saharan Africa: the roles of socioeconomic status and school quality

Other title(s): Urban-rural literacy gaps in sub-Saharan Africa: the roles of socioeconomic status and school quality

Author(s): Yanhong Zhang

Organisation(s): Comparative and International Education Society (USA)

Date: 2006

Pages: p. 581-602

In this article, the author documents the learning disadvantage of rural primary school students in sub-Saharan Africa and attempts to identify the factors underlying such disadvantages. Analyzing data from 14 school systems participating in the second study of the Southern and Western Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ II), which was carried out between 2000 and 2002, this article addresses the following questions: How do the reading literacy scores of rural primary school students differ from their urban counterparts in each of the school systems in the beginning of the twenty-first century? To what extent is there a pattern of rural disadvantage in reading literacy scores across these countries? In other words, are the rural-urban gaps consistent across all the school systems, or are they greater in some countries than in others? Finally, can the urban-rural gap in reading achievement be explained away by differences in student and school characteristics? The results of this study illustrate that rural-urban differences in learning outcomes are partly due to differences in the ways that students approach learning. The study suggests that improving school processes and strengthening home support for children's academic work are both indispensable for eliminating between- and within-school inequities in students' learning outcomes.

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