Preschool attendance, schooling, and cognitive skills in East Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We study the effects of preschool attendance on children's schooling and cognitive skills in Kenya and Tanzania. We use a within-household estimator and data from nationally representative surveys of school-age children's literacy and numeracy skills, which include retrospective information on preschool attendance. In both countries, school entry rules are not strictly enforced, and children who attend preschool often start primary school late. At ages 7–9, these children have thus attended fewer school grades than their same-aged peers without pre-primary education. However, they catch up over time: at ages 13–16, children who went to preschool have attended about the same number of school grades and score about 0.10 standard deviations higher on standardized tests in both countries. They are also 3 (5) percentage points more likely to achieve basic literacy and numeracy in Kenya (Tanzania).


External organisations
  • Institute of Labor Economics
  • University of Cape Town
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Cognitive skills, Education, Preschool, Sub-Saharan Africa
Original languageEnglish
Article number101909
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch