De facto Privatization and Inequality of Educational Opportunity in the Transition to Secondary School in Rural Malawi
Monica Grant

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

“In 1994, the government of Malawi implemented a universal primary education policy that removed all school fees at the primary level. As a consequence, school enrollment rates increased substantively at both the primary and secondary levels. Students are sorted into government secondary schools according to their performance on the Primary School Leaving Certificate examination (PSLCE), but places are not available for all students who successfully passed the PSLCE. Students who are not offered admission to a public secondary school have the option of attending private secondary schools, many of which rarely turn away students who are able to pay the tuition.For this project, I use data from the Malawi Schooling and Adolescent Survey (MSAS) to examine how socio-economic inequalities affect the transition to secondary school in rural Malawi. In addition to examining how family background characteristics are associated with enrollment in secondary school, I will also examine how family background influences the type of secondary school in which a student enrolls. Then, conditional on ever enrolling in secondary school, I will examine how family background, the type of secondary school attended, and the interaction between family background and school type are associated with the likelihood that a student eventually takes and passes the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JCSE), which is taken at the end of the second year of secondary school.”
About Monica Grant
Monica J. Grant is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and faculty affiliate of the Center for Demography and Ecology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Her research focuses on gender inequalities in early life course transitions, primarily in less developed countries. Within this general framework, her research can be categorized into three areas: the consequences of expanding female school participation, education and family decision-making in the context of the HIV epidemic, and the consequences of free primary education policies in sub-Saharan Africa. Monica’s research has appeared in academic journals such as Demography, Population and Development Review, Comparative Education Review, and Economics of Education Review.

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