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In 1996, following years of war, the government of Mozambique invited IFPRI to analyze the country’s widespread poverty to help develop a strategy for alleviating it, based on a nationally representative household survey of living conditions. As part of the collaboration, IFPRI also provided training in policy analysis to researchers at the Ministry of Planning and Finance and to faculty at Eduardo Mondlane University. The initial collaborative work on the poverty assessment report by IFPRI and its host institutions was the starting point for numerous papers, policy briefs, seminars, and reports. Results from the poverty assessment and an IFPRI research report titled Rebuilding after War: Micro-level Determinants of Poverty Reduction in Mozambique identified education as a pivotal force for improving income and household well-being in Mozambique, and thus for reducing poverty. This finding motivated an in-depth study on the effect of adults’ past education on current living standards, the factors that influence children’s enrollment in (and dropout from) school, and the possible policy levers available to the government to increase education levels in one of the world’s poorest countries. This research report by Sudhanshu Handa and Kenneth R. Simler, with Sarah Harrower, is the product of that study. That education is important may come as no surprise, but the strength of the findings in this report regarding the particular benefits of educating women is nevertheless dramatic. Children of educated mothers are healthier and better nourished, and they in turn are more likely to go to school and to stay in school longer. Building more and better schools and alleviating the monetary costs of schooling—by, for example, reducing fees for tuition, books, uniforms, and lunches—all help increase the number of children in school. For the well-being of today’s families and for future generations, investment in education is clearly worthwhile, not only in Mozambique but in all countries where poverty is endemic.


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