Recent research shows that childrens health can

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Recent research shows that children’s health can affect their schooling outcomes. Such research faces similar econometric challenges, yet a few recent papers have used credible methods to quantify the impact of early childhood health and nutrition on schooling outcomes. Height for age, a cumulative indicator of children’s health status, increases school enrollment (Glewwe and Jacoby 1995, Alderman et al. 2001). Glewwe, Jacoby and King (2001) used panel data from the Philippines to show that well nourished children perform better in school because they enroll earlier and learn more per year of school. Miguel and Kremer (2004), using a randomized trial, find that deworming drugs increased school attendance, but not test scores, among Kenyan primary school students. Another problem with studies on developing countries is that it is unclear whether the findings on one country apply to others, especially those with very different histories, cultures and education systems. Thus the best policy advice for Sri Lanka requires Sri Lankan data. The rest of this paper examines the factors that affect the academic performance of grade 4 students in Sri Lanka, giving special attention to the estimation problems mentioned above.
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4 III. Primary Education in Sri Lanka This section reviews education and student academic performance in Sri Lanka. The first subsection describes Sri Lanka’s education system, focusing on its primary schools, and the second examines the test performance of grade 4 students. A. Sri Lanka’s Education System. Despite its low income of about $1,030 per capita, Sri Lanka has enrolled nearly all primary aged (age 5-10) children in school; the net primary enrolment rate is 96%, and the primary completion rate is 95%. Gender equity also prevails; boys’ and girls’ enrollment rates are equal at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. These achievements reflect several policies. First, starting in the 1950s Sri Lanka established a complete, nation-wide network of free public schools. Second, since the 1970s the government has provided free textbooks and uniforms to all students. Third, school enrollment has been compulsory since 1997 for all children 6 to 14 years old (although generally no penalty is imposed for non-enrollment). Finally, Sri Lankan parents have a high demand for education (Aturupane, 1999). Sri Lanka’s education system has two unusual features. First, private schools are rare; a law passed in the early 1960s forbids the opening of new private schools, although existing private schools are allowed to operate). Second, most schools offer both primary and secondary grades. In almost all urban areas the typical school offers the full cycle (grades 1 to 13). The same is true in many rural areas, although in some rural schools the highest grade is only grade 11. Finally, schools in the least densely populated rural areas offer only grades 1-5 or grades 1-8. In the NEREC data (described in Section IV), 46.3% of fourth graders attend schools that offer grades 1-13, another 33.2% attend schools that offer grades 1-11, and only 20.5% attend schools that offer only to grades 1-5 or 1-8.
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  • Winter '17
  • DR. G.K. MAKAU
  • Economics

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