We identify the impact of the 2003 Kenyan Free Primary Education (FPE) programme on gender imbalances in the number of students graduating from primary school and achievement on the primary school exit examination. Our identiﬁcation strategy exploits temporal and spatial variations in the pre-programme dropout rates between districts in a difference-in-differences strategy. We ﬁnd that the programme boosted primary school completion rates of both boys and girls, but had a larger effect for boys, thereby increasing the gender gap in graduation. Additionally, the programme led to a widening of the achievement gap in government schools. Overall, FPE increased educational access, but did not close gender gaps, suggesting that complementary programmes that speciﬁcally target girls may be necessary to reduce these gaps.
That is Lucas and Mbiti writing in the latest issue of the Journal of African Economies.