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Koranic Schools in Senegal : A real barrier to formal education?

André, Pierre and Demonsant, Jean-Luc (2013): Koranic Schools in Senegal : A real barrier to formal education?

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This paper studies the substitution between secular formal education and informal religious education for Senegalese households. We use the timing of the opening of formal schools to estimate whether Koranic and formal education systems compete for the children's time. Adapting the diff-in-diff strategy in Duflo (2001), we assess the effect of school openings on Koranic and formal schooling. Our estimates show that formal school openings increase formal education attainment, especially in rural areas. We then estimate that an additional formal school decreases the time spent in Koranic schools for boys. In rural areas, it decreases the likelihood of pursuing long Koranic schooling by 20 percentage points (p.p.). In urban areas, it decreases the probability to go to Koranic school by 5 p.p. This proves that, while both school systems are independent in terms of organization and pedagogical content, they still compete for the children's time. This might increase the opportunity cost of formal primary school, and can narrow the political consensus around universal primary education.

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