Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In the study of development, researchers attempt to identify and measure the independent variables believed to influence economic growth and social development indicators in countries throughout the world. These researchers employ quantitative cross-national research methods, also known as the variable-oriented approach, while others may pursue a more case-oriented approach and examine a handful of countries employing a historical-comparative method. Education is a variable that has been identified in both of these research traditions to be positively related to the development of a country. However, when the effects of education on development are examined cross-nationally, it is clear that the countries of Africa have not experienced the same levels of economic growth as countries in other regions, such as in Latin America and Asia. To find out why Africa is not experiencing the same rate of growth as other regions this study explored the barriers to educational attainment and economic development in a sample of three African countries: Cameroon, Kenya, and Swaziland, A historical comparative approach was used to identify the historical factors giving rise to the present situation in each country. Each country's political, economic, and geographic history is discussed to provide a context for the present-day situation. The research then examined how a variety of decisions made by each country's leaders has shaped the ability of young children to attend school as well as shaping each country's overall development. This research project found that HIV/AIDS, land distribution, and corruption were the primary barriers in all three countries that obstructed education from having a positive influence on development. Each country may not exhibit the same level of HIV/AIDS, land distribution, and corruption, but all three experience some form of these three inhibiting factors. The findings suggest that the factors stem from historical causes in each country as well as poor political decisions made by politicians and leaders over the last several decades. The study also concluded that the three inhibiting factors all work interdependently and each problem cannot, be solved independently. The barring factors mitigate any effect education has on the development of the country by decreasing children's ability to attend school and decreasing tlie country's levels of human capita1.


Economics | Medical Sciences