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This article discusses a systematic review of studies of interventions in low-income developing countries that evaluated the elimination of school user fees (including tuition, uniforms, textbooks and other contributions). Only five rigorous empirical studies were identified that evaluate a school fees elimination program. Overall, the 36 empirical and descriptive studies identified show positive enrollment and persistence outcomes for fees elimination, although some indicate accompanying tradeoffs in education quality. The review highlights the need for more rigorous and longitudinal empirical research regarding the effects of various types of school fees elimination policies in low-income developing nations—particularly on the effectiveness of targeting policies to the most vulnerable groups, effects on education quality, and the extent to which fees abolition policies can be sustainable.
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