Primary school enrollment and completion in Guatemala: the relative importance of school availability on household education decisions
Achieving true universal primary education is a fundamental basis for the discussion of worldwide educational goals in the 21st century. Outlined presently in the UN Millennium Development Goals and the World Education Forum's Dakar Framework For Action, making basic primary education opportunities available to all the world's citizens echoes a series of commitments made by every generation of world leaders since World War II. Success in achieving this goal, however, has been strikingly inconsistent across countries and the different outcomes indicate that the barriers to universal primary education are as diverse as the countries attempting to meet the international targets. From a policy perspective, it is imperative to recognize that a complex set of both supply- and demand-side barriers affect preferences for schooling at every level of decision-making. This study examines how community-level policies (including school and teacher availability, quantity and quality of materials, civil society organizations, and welfare benefits) influence household schooling decisions regarding primary school enrollment and completion in Guatemala. Using data from the Living Standards Measurement Survey administered in Guatemala in 2000, this study tests the relative importance of the presence of preprimary and secondary schools in increasing the likelihood of primary school enrollment and completion, respectively. The preliminary analysis suggests that presently other community-wide interventions are more likely to influence enrollment and completion than an expanded spectrum of schooling opportunities. However, as formal education becomes increasingly important in a globalized world, policymakers may need to expand the current focus of education strategies to increase pre-primary preparation and post-primary educational opportunities to improve the overall educational attainment.
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