Enrolling Girls Without Learning: Evidence From Public Schools in Afghanistan

While more girls are now attending school in Afghanistan than prior to 2010, there is a lack of evidence on how school attendance is helping their cognitive development. Data is used from a large sample of all‐girls state‐funded school students to estimate for the first time the “learning profile” for Afghanistan. Students enrolled in grades 4 to 9 were assessed using the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) test items. We find that higher grade progression (particularly in grades 6–9) leads to almost no gain in numeracy (addition and subtraction) skills that should have been achieved in early grades. Similar results follow from the analysis of student performance in the EGRA test, particularly in oral reading fluency (correct words read per minute) and oral reading comprehension (number of correct answers out of 12). These findings warn that simply enrolling girls in school without improving the relationship between grade completion and learning is unlikely to transform the lives of women in Afghanistan.

Authors: Asadullah, M. Niaz; Alim, Md. Abdul; Hossain, M. Anowar
Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017