Fee-Free Educational Policy for Social Development: Examining the Conditions and the Social Benefits of Cost Elimination at the Upper-Secondary Level in Sub-Saharan Africa

Asante, Gabriel (2024) Fee-Free Educational Policy for Social Development: Examining the Conditions and the Social Benefits of Cost Elimination at the Upper-Secondary Level in Sub-Saharan Africa. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola. DOI https://doi.org/10.14267/phd.2024010

PDF : (dissertation)
PDF : (draft in English)

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.14267/phd.2024010


This study examines the simultaneity of the conditions necessary and sufficient for adopting cost-elimination policies, commonly known as fee-free educational policies, at the upper-secondary level, and the social benefits of these policies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Some conclusions are reached subject to a review of the theoretical and empirical literature related to these subjects. 1) That there is no consensus about the socio-political factors that drive the adoption of expansionary social policies such as fee-free education; 2) that despite the related challenges and criticisms, the adoption of cost-elimination policies has a significant positive effect on access to education at the basic level in SSA; and, 3) that Western sociology and economics literature identifies educational policies that increase access to education as having a positive externality in terms of crime reduction. However, the understanding of the education crime nexus in SSA and the role of educational policies is virtually non-existent. Again, the effects of fee-free policies on upper-secondary school enrolment have received very little attention across the region. Another critical area yet to be understood is the mechanisms that drive the adoption of fee-free policy changes. Based on these gaps, the study aimed to explore, understand, and explain the necessary and sufficient conditions that drive the adoption of fee-free policies in SSA through a case study design that uses qualitative comparative analysis to achieve the first research objective. Subsequently, the study examined the effect of fee-free policies on upper-secondary school enrolment rates. Last, the study investigated the impact of the macro-level rate of school enrolment on crime rates. The main components of the empirical analysis of the last two research objectives consist of panel data analysis of SSA countries from 2003 to 2018. Overall, the results of the three articles that comprise the article-based dissertation make the following theoretical contribution: the manifestations of fee-free policies on the agenda and their subsequent formulation and adoption are strongly embedded in political parties’ striving for political power through competitive electoral politics. The results challenge some core explanations of social policy provision, such as the partisan theory of policy outcomes and the economy. Notwithstanding this, fee-free policies have the utility of positively impacting social variables. These include the intended effect of increasing the rate of school enrolment to improve human capital development, and the unintended effect of reducing the property-related crime rate in society. Therefore, the study suggests that for achieving the desired fee-free policy outcome and its impact, these policies should be encouraged within broader national social-policy-development planning.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Gajduschek György, Bartha Attila
Uncontrolled Keywords:Upper secondary education; Fee-free education; Electoral competition; Human capital; Crime reduction; QCA; Panel-data; Sub-Saharan Africa
ID Code:1319
Date:16 February 2024
Deposited On:05 Oct 2023 13:43
Last Modified:19 Feb 2024 13:32

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