Compulsory schooling laws have been at the center for countries that, as part of the MDGs, committed to ensuring access and increasing participation for all. However, the literature on compulsory schooling has focused mostly on developed economies for which this policy has been in place for a long period of time. The impact of such an exogenous shock on developing economies has only been fairly studied. The present paper analyzes the cases of India and Ecuador which amended their Constitutions introducing—and extending, for the latter—compulsory schooling during the late 2008 and early 2009. The paper studies the impact of such policy change one decade after through the following education variables: access, attendance, completion, gender parity, and learning outcomes. The findings show that while compulsory schooling policy was intended to make improvements in both access and quality of education, progress remains concentrated around increasing access and much is left to be desired in terms of quality for both India and Ecuador. For instance, according to UNESCO’s TERCE, Ecuador’s performance in reading and mathematics has improved significantly from 2006 standards, nevertheless, it remains highly unequal across groups. Similarly, in India, children move through the education system without even acquiring fundamental competencies like reading and arithmetic. The conclusions demonstrate that the effectiveness of this policy rests in its implementation and how learning progress has been tracked in both countries.
Veronica Llanes, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Devanshee Shukla, National University of Singapore, Singapore