Pathways to low educational attainment: Why educational financing should target multidimensional poverty

Edward Sosu, Peter Mtika, Sofia Pimenta, Claire Wilson, Diane Fleischer-Djoleto

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


Children in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) face significant challenges of equity and access to quality education. A recent report by UNESCO (2017) found that about 90% (202m) of school-age children and adolescents in SSA were not achieving minimum proficiency levels, compared to 14% in North America and Western Europe. Benefits of educational improvements are also not being equitably distributed within the region. For instance, in both Ghana and Malawi, there are a number of schools where children persistently perform poorly in national high-stakes examinations. In Ghana, these schools have been designated as ‘zero percent schools’ because no child from these schools transition to secondary education with long term negative effects for both these children and national development.

To resolve these challenges, governments, with the support of international partners, have increased budgetary allocation to education to improve educational access and outcomes for the most vulnerable. However, the effect of these programmes on children’s educational outcomes have been limited due to a lack of clear contextualised understanding of the key mechanisms to low achievement.

The current study aims to add to knowledge by exploring the perspectives and experiences of school leaders, teachers, pupils and parents from schools and catchments with persistently low achievement in Ghana (n=42) and Malawi (n=60). Findings from the study are based on one-to-one interviews in both countries. Analyses were undertaken to identify participants’ subjective theories on low educational achievement. Results indicated three conceptual pathways to low educational attainment. These were income, accessibility, and school resource poverty. These factors interact resulting in low quality educational experiences. Future financing of education should target these multidimensions of poverty to improve access to quality education for all.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2019
EventUKFIET Conference - Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Sept 201919 Sept 2019


ConferenceUKFIET Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • education
  • attainment
  • poverty
  • Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs)
  • primary education
  • Ghana
  • Malawi


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathways to low educational attainment: Why educational financing should target multidimensional poverty'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this