School exclusion in Madagascar during COVID-19

Restitution and validation workshop © UNESCO

On March 4th, UNESCO Madagascar presented the results of the study "Analysis of Out-of-School Children Data and the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Madagascar," conducted within the framework of the Global Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI), for the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

With 258 million children, adolescents and youth out of school worldwide, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), many countries are still struggling with the lack of education. In response to this situation, UIS has launched five country studies, including one in Madagascar - a country where legislation emphasizes compulsory school attendance from age 6.

Results of the study in Madagascar:

The percentage of children not in school by level:

- Preschool (under 5 years old): 40% representing between 285,000 and 316,000 children

- Primary: 22% to 27% representing between 751,000 and 921,000 children

- Lower secondary: 30% to 40% representing between 741,000 and 1 million children

- Upper secondary: more than 60%, or nearly 1.4 million adolescents

The issues related to late entry, high school re-sits and dropouts at the primary level are among the most important problems of the Malagasy education system. Children enrolled in primary school are at greater risk of dropping out, where they have only a 33% chance of reaching the final grade. However, once students reach lower secondary school, they have a 73% chance of reaching the last grade, and those who reach upper secondary school have an 87% chance of reaching the last grade.

The proportions of out-of-school boys remain higher than those of girls in the 5-14 age groups, but girls are more likely to be out of school once they are older than 15. Across all dimensions of exclusion, out-of-school children are more likely to come from the poorest households, to be orphans, to have disabilities, and to live in rural areas or in certain regions in the south and southwest of the country.

Several demand and supply factors may explain school exclusion. At the household level, economic difficulties in the household, the low perception of the direct benefits of education combined with the need for labor in agricultural activities or herding, particularly for boys, explain a large part of the phenomenon of children not attending school. Early marriages, on the other hand, are a source of school dropout for young girls. As for schools, the cost of education, the distance from the school and the existence of incomplete schools with a discontinuity in educational offerings, the low qualification of teachers, and the existence of community teachers paid by parents have a significant influence on non-enrollment and dropout.

These data were collected in close partnership with the Malagasy Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Technical and Professional Education and the National Statistics Institute in Madagascar, and will be taken into consideration for policy and planning purposes and to facilitate synergies between the different stakeholders involved.