Children’s basic education through formal schooling has been enshrined as a social good, a basic right and a pathway for the development of individuals, societies and nation-states. Many children and families have come to view the opportunity to attend school as a ticket to a better life. However, this ticket often remains far from free.
This study, published in the journal, Compare, investigated the impact of the ‘hidden costs’ of schooling in the context of Rwanda’s fee-free education policy. Findings suggest children continue to contend with a range of school-related costs that impact attendance, performance and completion. Examination fees, after-school coaching and ‘voluntary’ parent-teacher association dues were found to have serious consequences for children’s educational experience. Findings illustrate how these ‘hidden costs’ may be a key factor explaining why children do not complete their schooling once enrolled. A series of policy recommendations are offered and broader implications for children’s rights and Education For All are discussed. Click here for access to the full text.