Gender Differences in the Retention of Literacy and Numeracy in Malawi

Erica Soler-Hampejsek, Population Council
Christine A. Kelly, Population Council
Barbara S. Mensch, Population Council
Paul C. Hewett, Population Council

Whether young people retain acquired skills upon school-leaving remains largely unknown. Using longitudinal data from a sample of Malawian adolescents attending school when first interviewed in 2007 and re-interviewed yearly until 2011, we will investigate gender differences in the retention of basic literacy and numeracy. Preliminary results show a significantly higher proportion of females than males were able to read two sentences in Chichewa and English at baseline. Examining trends in literacy we find that the gender difference in literacy initially favoring females disappeared and males significantly outperformed females in the most recent rounds. Males and females performed equally in the numeracy assessment at baseline, but by 2011 males also surpassed females. Preliminary results from survival analysis suggest that earlier school-leaving by females and higher grade attainment by males partially explain these trends, but a gender effect remains in three out of four outcomes even after controlling for these variables.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Economy, Labor Force, Education and Inequality