Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

William Ascher

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Sub-Saharan Africa continues to fall behind other developing regions regarding educational attainment, despite recent progress in enrollment. This thesis examines a variety of external conditional factors that could contribute to a country’s relative success, in terms of years spent in school using a prediction model that compares years enrolled in secondary education as a foundation to determine over- and under-performing countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

By exploring various educational policies, historical patterns, and projects executed in Rwanda, South Africa, Ghana, and Botswana, this thesis sheds light on four main challenges that can impact educational attainment: ethnic and racial tensions, an acute shortage of learning materials and trained teachers, inappropriate curricula, and high costs of education. Some of these challenges have been met with an array of policies, with mixed results in terms of the soundness and fairness of policies as well as the effectiveness of implementation.

This thesis argues that to facilitate the creation of an effective school system, education policies must focus on more appropriate reallocations of funding, improved teacher-training quality throughout rural regions, applicable and localized curricula, conditional cash transfer programs, and long-term improvements in the job market.