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Assessing early literacy outcomes in Burkina Faso and Senegal: Using DHS and PASEC to combine access and quality

Mon, April 15, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront A


In African countries many children never learn to read even at a basic level either because they do not attend school for a sufficient amount of time, or because the quality of their schooling is so low that they never breach this critical threshold. Traditionally, research and policy-making in education have focused on access measures of education when assessing the state of education within or between developing countries. Recently, large scale cross-national assessments of cognitive skills – including literacy – have emerged to complement these analyses, making it possible to measure what learners know and can do. Each of these methods provide important and useful information for the analysis of the success of an education system. However, researchers too often focus on one measure or the other, rather than using them both simultaneously. We combine both measures for two countries: Burkina Faso and Senegal using DHS and PASEC data. Overall, data on both countries point to an ongoing education crisis within these African countries where non-enrolment, dropout and a lack of learning in schools all contribute to dismal educational outcomes, even at the grade 2 level but especially at the grade 5 level. Most concerning is that these already dire outcomes are further exacerbated by gender and socioeconomic discrimination in both access and learning.