Many nations of the global south have emphasized human capital investment to ensure a more prosperous future. Education is not only associated with enhanced opportunities for upward social mobility but also contributes to more productive individuals with a greater capacity to alleviate the burdens of poverty. While the benefits of education are strongly supported by numerous studies, the means to effectively distribute such services to all remain contested. The government of Tanzania focuses on improving access by constructing more schools and eliminating, or at least reducing, the cost of education for all Tanzanians. Yet this focus on increasing the supply of school has put little consideration into household level factors in rural areas that ultimately shape enrollment decisions. In essence, the demand for school is expected to follow supply.
Using data from the Whole Village Project at the University of Minnesota and exploring existing literature that informs the effect of household determinants to education demand, I assert that decisions to send a child to school in rural Tanzania result from an interaction of household constraints and preferences. Direct and indirect costs of education, gender roles, and a household‟s socioeconomic status can all be decisive factors regarding the willingness of impoverished rural families to make the sacrifices necessary enroll their children. However, increasing the accessibility and quality of rural schools is an undeniably important factor to improving children‟s enrollment outcomes which should not be de-emphasized. Rather, complementing Tanzania‟s education sector expansion with policies aimed at incentivizing school attendance and eliminating barriers would enhance and reinforce recent enrollment gains.
School Enrollment in Rural Tanzania: The Effect of Household Characteristics.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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