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BackgroundSustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable access for all by 2030, leaving no one behind. One indicator selected to measure progress towards achievement is the participation rate of youth in education (SDG 4.3.1). Here we aim to understand drivers of school attendance using one country in East Africa as an example.MethodsNationally representative household survey data (2015-16 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey) were used to explore individual, household and contextual factors associated with secondary school attendance in Tanzania. These included, age, head of household's levels of education, gender, household wealth index and total number of children under five. Contextual factors such as average pupil to qualified teacher ratio and geographic access to school were also tested at cluster level. A two-level random intercept logistic regression model was used in exploring association of these factors with attendance in a multi-level framework.ResultsAge of household head, educational attainments of either of the head of the household or parent, child characteristics such as gender, were important predictors of secondary school attendance. Being in a richer household and with fewer siblings of lower age (under the age of 5) were associated with increased odds of attendance (OR = 0.91, CI 95%: 0.86; 0.96). Contextual factors were less likely to be associated with secondary school attendance.ConclusionsIndividual and household level factors are likely to impact secondary school attendance rates more compared to contextual factors, suggesting an increased focus of interventions at these levels is needed. Future studies should explore the impact of interventions targeting these levels. Policies should ideally promote gender equality in accessing secondary school as well as support those families where the dependency ratio is high. Strategies to reduce poverty will also increase the likelihood of attending school.

Original publication





PloS one

Publication Date





WorldPop, School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.


Humans, Absenteeism, Poverty, Socioeconomic Factors, Schools, Adolescent, Child, Educational Status, Tanzania, Female, Male