Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The wide divide between policies and impacts: Examining government influence over parental educational choice in Tanzania
by Tonini, Donna Catherine, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2010, 246; 3425009
Abstract (Summary)

The Government of Tanzania emphasizes the importance of secondary education, considering it a minimum requirement for economic development. Yet, despite the recognized necessity of secondary education, in 2008, net enrollment of the appropriate age group was merely 24% in secondary school. The Tanzanian Government, focusing on the main barriers of entry, school fees and school supply, launched its Secondary Education Development Plan, including the reduction of school fees for day students and the increased construction of schools in underserved areas as two strategies to improve educational equity. The primary research question is, out of the two policy directives—the development of more school buildings, and increased subsidies to schools—which policy option has played a more cost-effective role in increasing enrollment? Secondly, how have the government's decisions to halve secondary school fees in public schools and build more schools impacted families' decisions to send children to school?

The study's mixed-model design offers insight into the financial decision making process of Tanzanian parents regarding their choice to pursue secondary education for their children. Utilizing cost-effectiveness analysis, the study disaggregates the costs associated with each policy strategy and identifies the constituencies involved with educational spending and how their financial responsibilities are allocated. Next, data were collected via parental questionnaires and interviews to identify the individual direct and indirect costs of education and assess which governmental policy prescription influenced more parents to send their children to secondary school. The study then used logistic regression analysis to determine which of these cost and non-cost factors had a statistically significant impact on enrollment.

The research shows that out of the many government, donor and community constituencies that expend resources on secondary education, it is the parents and local communities that shoulder the largest financial burden. Additionally, although parents are mostly motivated by the government's school construction policy, the research discovered a presidential edict mandating students' enrollment in secondary school as another contending variable influencing parental educational choice. Yet, despite the policies and mandate, Tanzanian schools are still financially constrained and educational quality is declining due to the lack of government resources allocated toward secondary education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Levin, Henry
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Education Policy, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Educational choice, Government influence, Tanzania
Publication Number: 3425009
ISBN: 978-1-124-25383-1
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