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Working Paper

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The paper explores empirically the relationship between school quality in Egyptian preparatory (middle) schools and the likelihood of school dropout either during preparatory school or before the completion of secondary school. Despite strong empirical evidence for the many positive social and economic returns associated with more years of schooling, there has been little research exploring how the quality of particular schools might influence grade levels attained. The authors address this research gap using detailed data on Egyptian preparatory schools (grades 6-8, the last three years of the eight years of basic schooling) that are linked with a national survey of Egyptian adolescents. The results confirm that school quality is associated with grade levels attained. For both boys and girls, the elements of school quality that matter include traditional elements such as time available for learning and material resources, including teacher quality, as well as some aspects of school and classroom dynamics, in particular treatment by teachers and teacher attitudes. A comparison of these results with a similarly designed study in Kenya by some of the same authors suggests that the specific features of school quality that matter for educational outcomes are context specific and differ between boys and girls. Gender roles in society, as well as school quality and teacher attitudes about the academic capabilities of adolescent boys and girls, shape the ways in which schools influence boys and girls in a particular setting. At the same time as schools empower young people with knowledge and skills, they also reflect and reinforce societal norms, including norms about gender roles.