Environmental Resources Collection versus Children’s Schooling: Evidence from Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

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Previous studies on child labor and schooling in Ethiopia were general and did not distinctively show the adverse effect of natural resources scarcity on schooling. The objective of this paper is, therefore, to see the environmental resources collection and schooling relationship for children aged 7 to 18 years and see if there is any gender bias in schooling due to resource collection work. It uses a cross sectional data of 120 rural households from Enderta and Hintalo Wajerat woredas in Tigray, which represents one of the most environmentally degraded regions in Ethiopia. The two-Stage Conditional Maximum Likelihood (2SCML) estimation technique is employed to take care of endogeneity between schooling and resource work hours. The empirical analysis revealed that longer hours spent on environmental resources collection influences the likelihood of child schooling negatively. But we find no evidence about the gender based difference against girls’ schooling due to resource collection hours though they do often participate in resource gathering tasks. Among others, household head’s ability to read and write, owning large number of cattle and child age significantly increases the probability of collecting resources, the collection intensity and schooling likelihood while large sizes of cultivated land bear a negative effect on each outcome. The presence of more children in the 7 to 18 age category indicates the quantity (number of children) and quality (investment in child education) trade-off regarding parents’ decision to send their children to school. Provision of functional adult literacy programs to parents, timely collection of fodder resources from cultivated land, planting fodder-rich tree species, promoting collective agricultural work (“wofera”), introduction of flexible academic calendar and maintenance of the non-operating constructed water services can be important policy tools to reduce environmental resources collection time and improve the likelihood of schooling. Grass-root based experience sharing programs and awareness creation can also be worthwhile in this regard



Environmental resources