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The Effect of Colonial and Pre-Colonial Institutions on Contemporary Education in Africa

Leone Walters, Carolyn Chisadza and Matthew Clance
Publication date
January 2021

This paper argues that contrary to previous findings, present-day education outcomes in Africa cannot be independently attributed to colonial or pre-colonial ethnic institutions. We propose that it is instead the complementarity or contention between colonial and precolonial institutions that result in education outcomes we observe today. Using geolocated DHS literacy outcomes for Cameroon, Cˆote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, our findings suggest that the positive effect of British rule on contemporary literacy is diminished in centralised ethnic regions. This paper contributes to debates on colonial and pre-colonial ethnic influences on African development, moving beyond country-level analysis.

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Series title
Working paper 850
JEL classifications