Expanding Access and Increasing Student Learning in Post-Primary Education in Developing Countries
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) has launched a Post-Primary Education Initiative intended to promote policy-relevant research on secondary and post-secondary education in developing countries, which together will be referred to as post-primary education. This paper is a first step in that process. We review the evidence to date on post-primary education and highlight the gaps in the literature, with a focus on identifying policies that should be given the highest priority for future research.
Different countries define primary and secondary schooling differently, and in many countries, students attend middle schools, upper primary schools, or junior secondary schools before attending secondary school. For the purpose of this review, we take “post-primary education” to include everything from upper primary, middle, or junior secondary school through tertiary education, as defined by the local context in different countries, including vocational school and other alternative tracks for this age group. In practice, this means that in the research we review, the majority of children are in 5th grade (i.e. 10-11 years old) and older.
The review is organized as follows. Section II provides some background on post-primary education in the developing world. Section III explains how papers were selected for this review. Section IV presents a conceptual framework for thinking about post-primary education (PPE), including a brief discussion of measuring outcomes. Section V reviews the evidence pertaining to the demand for schooling (the impact of policies that attempt to increase the willingness of households to send their children to school), and Section VI reviews the evidence on the supply of schooling (the impact of policies that change school and teacher characteristics, and more generally how schools are organized). A final section summarizes the findings, highlighting several research gaps that should receive high priority in future research.