Strategies and Approaches to Ensure Equitable Access to Quality Education in Economic Crises

20th December 2018
Author: Zoe James

This helpdesk review has drawn primarily on evidence from systematic reviews and synthesis studies focused on (i) the impact of economic crises on education systems, and (ii) the effectiveness of strategies and approaches that aim to improve educational participation. It has focused on policy responses at the primary and secondary levels of education, and where possible has drawn on examples from effective responses in the context of large-scale economic crisis. Where evidence was not available from contexts of economic crisis, studies from resource-constrained low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) were considered. Economic crises pose particular challenges to the achievement of goals around equitable access to quality education. Falling household incomes can affect the ‘demand’ for schooling, increasing the cost of schooling, particularly for the poorest. Meanwhile, constrained government budgets can lead to reduced investments in schools and teachers, and associated declines in education quality (World Bank 2009). This review discusses five strategies and approaches to ensure equitable access to quality education, which have been identified as appropriate responses in literature on the impact of economic crisis on education (Lundberg and Wuermli 2012; Shafiq 2010; World Bank 2009). These are: (1) cash transfers; (2) scholarship programmes and fee waivers; (3) school feeding; (4) decentralisation and school grants; and (5) information-related activities. For all except ‘information-related activities’, there are examples of the effective implementation of that policy in contexts of economic crisis.

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Suggested Citation

James, Z. (2018). Strategies and approaches to ensure equitable access to quality education in economic crises. K4D Helpdesk Report 512. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


20th December 2018


Continent: Global

Country: Guyana, Indonesia, Mexico, Zimbabwe