Database: School Exams in Africa and South Asia
20 February 2023
Very little is documented about where exams take place or how results are used. In principle, exams provide the leading measure of student skills in most education systems. At the same time, they act as bottlenecks that prevent many children from going to school altogether. But they’re understudied relative to the important roles they play for policymakers and in the lives of students. Exam data are closely guarded and there is very little research from lower-income countries on how exams influence educational or economic outcomes. Our new database on public examinations begins to fill this gap. It brings together information from disparate national sources to show which countries in Africa and South Asia hold exams at primary and lower secondary levels, and the purposes of these tests. Looking back over the past 15 years for each country, we can report where and how things have changed, pointing to useful policy lessons, potential reform mechanisms, and opportunities for future research.