Do education inputs influence education outcomes differently for females and males in primary school in Malawi? a production funtion analysis

Downs, Anna
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Despite the challenges for females’ education in Malawi, there is limited quantitative research which suggests what needs to be done in order to improve gender equality in primary education in Malawi. This report contributes to the literature on education inputs’ effectiveness for female pupils at the primary school level and can be used to see if the results back up, and give weight to, some of the qualitative studies that have tried to answer this question. The analysis is unique in two main respects: firstly, the education production function analysis divides the sample into separate groupings of female and male pupils, and then compares the results of the separate regressions; secondly, it is an education production function analysis that focuses solely on Malawi using the SACMEQ III data. The analysis shows that females in Malawi face serious educational disadvantages even after observable education inputs have been controlled for. This points to other unobserved factors such as cultural attitudes, household preferences, or whether a female is: married, due to be married, a mother or pregnant. The analysis finds that the variables that are significantly correlated with the academic achievement of both females and males are: class size; hours of teaching; school resources; problems with the community; homework given; community paying bonus to school staff; years of teacher training; head teachers’ number of years’ experience; pupil/teacher ratio; and access to a computer. In addition to the factors that were found to correlate with male and female pupil test scores similarly, there were several factors that were associated with female pupils’ but not with male pupils’ test scores. The analysis found that female pupils at Grade 6 tend to do worse academically if they: are older than their peers; have more household chores; and have further to travel to school. There was some weaker evidence that a safe learning environment was associated with female pupils’ academic achievement. Key Words: Production function, Malawi, SACMEQ, primary school, education outcomes, education inputs, gender, female, age, economics of education.
Research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Masters in Education (Policy, Planning and Management) In the School of Education University of the Witwatersrand February 2014