Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Where has all the education gone in Sub-Saharan Africa? Employment and other outcomes among secondary school and university leavers

Al-Samarrai, Samer and Bennell, Paul (2006): Where has all the education gone in Sub-Saharan Africa? Employment and other outcomes among secondary school and university leavers. Forthcoming in: Journal of Development Studies

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Abstract

Anecdotal evidence and generalisations abound concerning the employment outcomes of secondary school and university leavers, but there is very little solid, accurate information on what these groups in African countries do after they have completed their education. Using tracer surveys, this paper presents comprehensive time-series information on the activity profiles of representative samples of secondary school leavers and university graduates in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The paper shows that much of the anecdotal evidence surrounding the labour market outcomes of these groups is spurious. While employment outcomes are generally much better than expected, the tracer surveys highlight the enormous challenges of educating and subsequently utilising secondary school leavers and university graduates in an efficient and effective manner in low-income African countries. In particular, given the paucity of new employment opportunities in the formal sector, much more needs to be done in order to ensure that both these groups are better prepared for productive self-employment, especially in high growth and higher skill activities.

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