Republic of Sudan Education System Reform: The Causal Effect on Welfare of Women and Children
Keywords:Republic of Sudan, education, compulsory schooling, women empowerment, welfare, children’s well-being, regression discontinuity design, economic development
This paper explores a change in education law in the Republic of Sudan, also known as Northern Sudan, to estimate the causal effect of compulsory education on the welfare of women and children. The aim is to investigate the impact of education policies on women and children’s well-being and point out the limitations of these policies in conservative societies. The policy extended the duration of primary education from five years to eight, made it compulsory and reduced the entry age from seven to six. It was proposed in 1995 and implemented in 1998, affecting individuals born from July 1993 onwards. The birth-date Regression Discontinuity Design is implemented as the main methodology to investigate the engagement with education and outcome variables of interest after versus before the cut-off point, by using the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Survey Data. This methodology enables overcoming the endogeneity problem when dealing with observational data. The results suggest that the policy increased completion rates of primary education and participation of women in the labour force but did not increase participation in education. Moreover, there is limited evidence of any welfare effect of the policy. The paper also investigates possible reasons for the policy being ineffective in increasing participation rates. The paper recommends that before taking an essential step towards the goal of universal primary education, the government failed to address existing problems such as the unavailability of schools, long distances to schools, school fees and child labour, which discourage families from sending their daughters to school to increase the effectiveness of the policy. In Muslim societies where informal institutions dominate written rules, compulsory education policies are not likely to yield the expected outcomes, such as equal access for girls to education, unless they are accompanied by huge investment. This paper contributes to the existing literature by highlighting the impact of educational reform policies, discussing issues that limit their effectiveness and making propositions to improve the impact of these policies in such societies.
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