Reaching the poor. The 'costs' of sending children to school: a six country comparative study


This comparative research study focused on the main barriers to education for the poorest households in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Although the study set out primarily to look at the burden of education costs on the poorest households very rich data on other barriers to education (e.g. physical access, quality of education, vulnerability/poverty, and health) have been gathered and are discussed. The study looked at what motivates parents to send their children to school (and keep them there) through their perceptions of the quality and value of education. Illuminating views concerning the barriers, the quality and value of education from out of school children and children in school are also presented.

This report is a synthesis of six other reports which themselves covered a total of 20 study sites.

The structure of the report is as follows:
Section 1 provides the report summary.
Section 2 is the introduction
Section 3 reviews the meaning of cost sharing and the definitions of poverty and equity used in the report.
Section 4 introduces the methodology of the research in the six countries selected.
Section 5 synthesises the findings from the six separate country studies drawing them together under the following themes:
-Valuation of education
-Constraints and barriers to education
-Perceptions of quality
-Household income and expenditure
-Education costs/opportunity costs
-Willingness and ability to pay
-Household sacrifices
-Equity issues.
Section 6 presents some key policy implications.


Educational Paper No. 47, DFID, London, UK, ISBN 1 86192 361 9, 125 pp.

Reaching the poor. The ‘costs’ of sending children to school: a six country comparative study

Published 1 January 2002