Analysis of technical efficiency of Secondary Schools in Zambia
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The importance of quality and efficient education sector has attracted a lot of attention both in terms of academic work and political commitment in developed countries. In contrast, there has been little work done concerning efficiency of the education sector carried out in African countries. Zambia today is no exception; there is an increasing demand for more secondary school education to match the needs of a growing population in Zambia. A lack of adequate resources presents a binding constraint. The efficiency with which available resources are being utilized is another challenge that cannot be overlooked. The high school education sub-sector (Grades 10-12) has not expanded since the 1970s (FNDP 2005). There is an added problem of poor performance among schools. Pass rates at Grade 12 level is consistently below 70% since 2000. Weaknesses in the operations of schools undermine their service coverage potential even in situations where funding is not the main constraining problem resulting in a poor service delivery system. The study used stochastic frontier analysis and data envelopment analyses which are parametric and non parametric methods respectively to calculate efficiency score for each school. The parametric specification estimated technical efficiency assuming exponential distribution. The non parametric specification used constant and variable returns to scale in calculating efficiency. School level data from Examination Council of Zambia and Ministry of Education respectively was used. We used School enrolment and number of pupils who obtain Grade 12 School Certificate as outputs. Recurrent expenditure, number of classrooms in a school, Pupil teacher ratio and book- to- pupil ratio were used as inputs. The average technical efficiency measured by the stochastic production frontier method is 82% for enrolment. The DEA mean efficiency score is 77% and 65% for pass rate and enrolment respectively. We did not obtain technical efficiency scores for pass rate using SFA because it failed to display the asymmetric error term required to model inefficiency. Also one hundred and thirty observations out of two hundred and one observations have consistent rankings between SFA and DEA. The rank order correlation coefficient of efficiency is 0.66 between the two methods. This study has demonstrated that inefficiency of resource use in schools is significant. The unsuitable scale of operation of secondary schools can be used as a productivity control tool. Policy attention is drawn to the rank order correlation coefficient which suggests that using either DEA or SFA is sufficient to identify efficient schools.