PB 14/31 - Combining Educational Access and Educational Quality into a Single Statistic

Nicholas Spaull and Stephan Taylor

Date of Publication: 
June 2014

The expansion of access to schooling in developing countries has been one of the most successful social movements in recent history. The proportion of people aged 15 and over, living in developing countries, that had no schooling halved between 1980 (38%) and 2010 (17%) (Barro & Lee, 2010, p. 32). Consequently, there has also been a drastic increase in the average years of schooling, rising from 4.3 years (1980) to 7.1 years (2010). Unfortunately, learning outcomes in many of these countries can only be described as dismal. When taken together, these two outcomes prompt the question: "What is the purpose of expanding access to formal schooling?" Is it to increase the number of children frequenting a building called a "school", or is it to increase the number of students acquiring the knowledge, skills and values they need to participate in modern society? If it is the latter, then that is what we should measure...

View Policy Brief: DPRU PB 14/31