Education is widely considered as the most important path to social mobility in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), yet there are very few studies of the extent to which it fulfills this promise. In this paper we use survey data from seven MENA countries to understand the relationship between schooling attainment of youth and the circumstances into which they are born, namely gender, parent education, and type of community. We consider both the probability of entry and of reaching secondary school using censored ordered probit. We find an alarming degree of inequality of opportunity in attainment in most of these countries, especially in Iraq and Yemen. Previous results of inequality of opportunity in MENA in achievement show that building a level playing field in learning requires much more than free provision of schools; the results of this study find the same for attending and staying in school.
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