Deteriorating Environmental Resources and Primary School Educational Attainment in the Rural South Pare Highlands, Tanzania

By Dimoso, Romanus Lucian | International Journal of Education, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Deteriorating Environmental Resources and Primary School Educational Attainment in the Rural South Pare Highlands, Tanzania


Dimoso, Romanus Lucian, International Journal of Education


Abstract

We assess whether school attendance and progress of children in rural primary schools, with respect to their gender, is inversely affected by deteriorating environmental resources. We distinguished three types of areas, namely, severely-degraded, medium-degraded and non-degraded environmental conditions. Our findings, among others, show that there were other factors like school crowdedness, illness, bad weather, school absenteeism due to petty trading and/or informal casual labour, and poor quality of some primary schools that significantly affected the probability of school attainment for the schoolchildren apart from the environmental degradation situations. Environmental degradation, in all estimates except for the schoolgirls in severely-degraded environment, did not have a significant impact. The policy makers therefore, in their attempt to improve educational attainment and human capital formation at primary level should, as well, focus on these other relevant factors excluded from our model. Moreover, the non-government sector may also be enticed into investing in educa tion through attractive fiscal incentives.

Keywords: Environmental Degradation, Primary School Attainment, Rural South Pare Highlands, Tanzania

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

This paper tests whether school attendance and progress of children in rural primary schools, with respect to their gender, is inversely affected by deteriorating environmental resources. Schoolchildren are involved in the work, supporting their households' livelihoods, including housework, farming, collecting scarce environmental products and/or g razing. This type of child labour frequently leads to foregone schooling, which may have critical consequences for educational achievements. Understanding more about this form of child labour in the face of various degrees of environmental degradation, and its link to educational attainments is important.

2. Data

We used cross - sectional primary data obtained in 2006/7 from the south Pare highlands. South Pare is the most dramatic example of environmental degradation in Tanzania. The area is entirely confin ed to the Same district, with a land size of 5152 square kilometres, in Kilimanjaro region. The area is categorized into three main zones as per its geographical features. The zones are the Upland Plateau Zone (relatively non - degraded), the Middle Plateau Zone (medium - degraded) and the Lowland Zone (severely - degraded).

2.1 Descriptive statistics

We had a sample of 301 schoolchildren in our survey, one from each household. The criteria used for selection were primarily their familial relationship to the hou sehold head, their undoubted physical ability to perform various activities without difficulties, including collection and/or grazing and other agricultural and household work, were enrolled at primary schools and were able to express themselves. With rega rd to familial relationship, we preferred children who were living together with their biological parents.

Of these 301 schoolchildren, 152 (50.5 percent) were boys and 149 (49.5 percent) were girls. In general, 92 percent of these children reported that they attended school in the past 12 months while 8 percent reported they did not. The 8 percent who did not attend had either permanently or temporarily dropped out of school. In any case, if they would attend school next academic year they would have to r epeat a grade. For those who attended school in the past 12 months, it happened that some missed school occasionally apart from allowed holidays and school breaks. 2 percent of the schoolchildren reported having missed school quite often, 75.4 percent miss ed school regularly and 22.6 percent never missed school during the whole academic year. The rainy season was reported as the period that schoolchildren most often missed school. 57.8 percent of the school - goers acknowledged having missed school quite ofte n during the rainy season. …

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