Electrification of schools in Zambia

Project Active from to State and State Effectiveness

In the 7th National Development Plan, the Government of Zambia strives to establish an integrated approach to national development that coordinates development across sectors. For this purpose, it is crucial to understand complementarities in the provision of public services across sectors.

The objective of this project is to map the electrification of schools in Zambia across time and space by combining the annual school census (2000-2017) from MoGE and project-level electrification data from REA. The former dataset contains basic information about schools, including GPS coordinates and the availability of electricity as indicated by headteachers for the universe of Zambian schools. The latter contains information on the universe of electricity connections to schools implemented by the REA since its foundation in 2005. Complementing these two datasets with publicly available data on nighttime luminosity will allow for the depiction of the entire electrification process, from the establishment of the connection to the grid (or the installation of solar power), to the indication of the headmaster that the school has functioning electricity and the visibility of lights from outer space at night.

This project can be regarded as preparatory for comprehensive follow-up research on complementarities in the provision of education and electricity. From the perspective of national development planning, understanding how electrifying schools affects the local supply of teachers is key. The researchers aim to answer the following questions:

  • Does it make schools more attractive to teachers and therefore increase supply?
  • If so, does local supply increase at the cost of non-electrified schools in the surroundings?
  • How does the electrification of schools affect the distribution of teachers in spatial equilibrium?

Comprehensive teacher level data from the Education Management Information System allows for the analysis of the reduced-form effects of electrification on teacher retention and transfers.

In a second step, the reduced form estimates can be used to inform a spatial general equilibrium model of the distribution of teachers across the universe of public schools. This model will allow for the simulation of counterfactual electrification decisions and their effects on the spatial distribution of teachers. However, the long-term objective for the project is not only to understand supply-side effects of school electrification, but also demand-side effects and potential interaction effects, thus to study the effects of electrification on enrolment and learning.