While primary school enrollment rates have risen sharply in much of the world, the quality of education remains low in many countries. Many children who attend school regularly are still unable to read or do basic arithmetic. For instance, a 2008 survey found that in rural India only 56 percent of children in grade 5 could read at the grade 2 level, and nearly 20 percent could not read beyond a single word. Community oversight and participation has been advocated to increase education quality. Does this strategy work, and if so how can community participation be encouraged? Is more direct action by communities to teach their children to read more effective?
Context of the Evaluation:
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, only 43.5 percent of children in grade 5 can read at the grade 2 level. In response to this problem, the government established Village Education Committees (VECs) in every village in 2001. VECs consist of the elected head of the village government, the head teacher of the local school, and three parents who are nominated by their community. These committees are responsible for monitoring school performance, allocating school resources, and hiring additional contract teachers in the event of overcrowding.
Despite the promising aspects of this program, a survey conducted in 2005 indicated that 38 percent of VEC members did not readily identify as being part of the committee, and 25 percent did not even know they had this role. Only 3.6 percent of all VEC members knew they had the ability to request funds to hire additional teachers, which is one of the main prerogatives and responsibilities of the VEC.
Details of the Intervention:
Working jointly with Pratham (a local NGO) and the World Bank, researchers designed three interventions that were randomly assigned in 280 villages in four rural blocks in Jaunpur district, eastern Uttar Pradesh, a populous and educationally struggling area in India. These interventions served to determine if more information and encouragement to use the channels available to them would cause VECs and community members to demand and receive better services. They contrasted this with direct action to improve learning outside the official channels.
Intervention 1: In 65 villages, Pratham staff started a series of conversations about education in small groups throughout the community. These conversations covered the current status of schools in the village, the quality of local schools, state mandated provisions for schools, mid-day meals, and local funds available for education. People were asked if they knew about the VEC and its membership and responsibilities. After two days of meetings in small groups, a community-wide meeting was held where people were encouraged to discuss and ask for information about the VEC, with information gaps filled in by Pratham’s field workers. VEC members also received a pamphlet on their roles and responsibilities from the Pratham staff.
Intervention 2: In addition to all the steps outlined above, communities in another 65 villages were trained and encouraged to conduct testing to see if children could read simple text and solve basic arithmetic problems. Volunteers put together a "report card" for each community, which was presented at the community-wide meeting.
Intervention 3: In addition to the above two steps, Pratham officers taught volunteers in another 65 villages a simple technique for helping children learn to read. Volunteers were encouraged to start after-school reading classes-- they were invited to attend training sessions which lasted for four days, and staff returned an average of seven times to provide in-service training. The objective was to use Pratham-designed materials and local volunteers to supplement the normal curriculum, and improve literacy among village children.
Comparison: Eighty-five villages received no treatment, serving as a comparison.
Results and Policy Lessons:
Impact on Information Gaps: The average effect of all three treatments was an increase of 7.8 percentage points in VEC members who knew they could access public funds, and a 13 percentage point increase of members who had been properly trained. Parents were also 2.9 percentage points more likely to know that a VEC existed in their community.
Impact on Engagement: Despite these improvements in awareness, there was little difference between the VECs’ performance in treatment and comparison villages. The only significant difference was that 20 percent more contract teachers were hired in Intervention 2 villages (although not in Intervention 3 villages). Also, the intervention did not increase the level of engagement of parents with schools. Parents were no more likely to have visited the school or to have volunteered time or money in the treatment villages than in the comparison villages.
Impact on Reading: In 55 of the 65 Intervention 3 villages, volunteers ran more than 400 reading courses. The average child in an Intervention 3 village who could not read anything at baseline was 7.9 percent more likely to be able to read at least letters. Those who could read only letters at baseline were 3.5 percent more likely to read at least paragraphs or words, and 3.3 percent more likely to read stories if they were in an Intervention 3 village. These changes in average literacy across the village came despite the fact that only 8 percent of children, including 13 percent of those who could not recognize letters prior to the intervention, attended the classes. Provided that the effects of Intervention 3 are channeled entirely through attendance at the reading classes, comparing the endline reading levels of the comparison group with the Intervention 3 treatment effects described above reveals just how large these effects are: all children who could not read at baseline but attended classes ended up being able to read letters at endline, and 98 percent of children who could read at the word or paragraph level was able to read at the story level.
Intervention 3 was the only intervention which actually improved educational outcomes, by empowering individuals to improve teaching in their own communities. This suggests that enabling local action which does not depend upon large-group participation may be a means of directly affecting educational outcomes.
When young girls struggle to stay in school, they risk not being able to develop the skills necessary to support themselves, and relying on male partners for resources who oftentimes demand sex in return. Such relationships are prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa, leaving young girls highly vulnerable to HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy, evidenced by the two-to-one ratio of HIV rates among young women versus their male counterparts.  The World Health Organization has identified negotiation skills for women and expanded efforts to keep girls in school as critical tools for reducing HIV rates among women in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Designing school curriculum to provide girls with a stronger education and new skill sets has the potential to change gender dynamics and improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population.
Context of the Evaluation:
School data for Zambia shows a dramatic decline in female enrollment from primary to secondary school years. While this drop is normally attributed to the commencement of school fees in the eighth grade, a closer look reveals that school dropout rate increases start prior to the fee increase. In grade five, the drop-out rate is three times higher for girls than boys. 
This project tests the impact of negotiation training in addition to the current school curricula on HIV/AIDS, health, and education outcomes among Zambian girls. Through a randomized controlled trial, this study analyzes whether negotiation skills that allow a girl to reshape her understanding of a conflict and her communications with others, can ultimately result in more favorable resource allocations.
Details of the Intervention:
This study isolates the impact of teaching information versus teaching negotiation by layering two interventions on top of a "social capital" program, including time with other girls in a safe space.
About 2,400 grade eight girls from across 20 schools in Lusaka will be randomly assigned to participate in one of three two-week programs. About 120 girls will be engaged per school, with roughly 40 girls in each program:
Social capital: girls meet after school to play games; receive a snack notebooks, and pens
Information: girls meet after school to learn information on HIV and importance of schooling and to play games, also receive a snack, notebooks, and pens
Negotiation plus information: girls receive above program plus negotiation training
The Negotiation Curriculum is structured by four principles: "Me," or identifying one’s own interests and options in conflict situations; "You," or identifying the other person’s interests, needs, and perspective; "Together," or identifying shared interests and small trades; and "Build," or developing win-win solutions. The curriculum also accounts for some negotiations in which it is necessary to be patient, or "Take 5," and others in which the only outcome to keep the girl safe and healthy is to walk away and not negotiate.
Outcome measures will measure both the size and source of impact, capturing transformations in the girl's capabilities, her interactions with others, and the outcomes of those interactions:
Survey data: Self-perception, outcomes of arguments and discussion, reported locus of control, intra-household allocations, and sexual risk exposure. Impact on the family measured through parent and sibling surveys to see if gains in participant well-being come at the expense of other family members.
Real outcomes (administrative data from schools): Rates of pregnancy, school attendance and advancement, and potentially STI/HIV rates
Behavioral measures: Take-up of an additional opportunity that requires child-parent negotiation, altered willingness to pay for schooling by parents, responses to negotiation scenario or partner game.
Results forthcoming. If successful, this program curriculum could be scaled up countrywide in partnership with the Ministry of Education to increase schooling attainment and lower HIV infections at a relatively low cost.
For more information about this project, click here.
 (UNAIDS (2010) "UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic" p.183)
Over the past decade many developing countries have expanded primary school access, energized by initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call for achieving universal primary education by 2015. However, improvements in school access and enrollment may not always translate into improved learning outcomes for all students if the quality of education is poor. Current research has identified several cost-effective ways to increase student attendance, but much less is known about how to improve education quality and student learning in a cost-effective way. Many schools rely on rote learning and memorization, but can lessons which are more tailored to children’s learning level improve achievement? How important is a pedagogical approach which adapts to the level of the child?
Context of the Evaluation:
A 2005 survey found that 44 percent of Indian children age 7 to 12 could not read a basic paragraph and 50 percent could not do simple subtraction even though most were enrolled in school. Even in urban India, the learning levels are very low in Vadodara, a major city in the Indian State of Gujarat, only 19.5 percent of the students enrolled in grade 3 could correctly answer questions testing grade 1 math competencies. Ironically, the difficulty in improving the quality of education may be complicated by success in getting more children to attend school, as in many cases neither the pedagogy nor the curriculum has been adapted to take into account the quantity and characteristics of the influx of new children.
Details of the Intervention:
In conjunction with education-oriented NGO, Pratham, researchers evaluated the Balsakhi Program, a remedial education intervention implemented in 122 public primary schools in Vadodara and 77 schools in Mumbai. A tutor (balsakhi), usually a young woman recruited from the local community and paid a fraction of the cost of civil-service teachers (US$10-15 per month), worked with children in grades 2, 3 and 4 who were identified as falling behind their peers. The instructor typically met with a group of approximately 15-20 of these children who were taken out of the regular classroom into a separate class for two hours of the four-hour school day each day. Instruction focused on the core competencies the children should have learned in the first and second grades, primarily basic numeracy and literacy skills. The instructors were provided with two weeks of initial training and a standardized curriculum that was developed by Pratham.
In the 2001 school year in Vadodara, approximately half of the schools were given a tutor for grade 3, and the other half were given a tutor for grade 4, while in Mumbai during that same year, approximately half of the schools received a tutor for grade 3, and the other half received a tutor for grade 2—in both cities, which school received which tutor was randomized. In 2002, the schools were given a tutor for the previously untreated grade. In determining program impact, grade 3 students in schools that only received a tutor for grade 4 were compared to grade 3 students in schools that had tutors for grade 3, and so on. Academic achievement was measured through two annual tests, administered at the start and end of the academic term.
Results and Policy Lessons:
Impact on Education: The program had substantial positive impacts on children’s academic achievement. In both Vadodara and Mumbai, the Balsakhi program significantly improved overall test scores; by 0.14 standard deviations in the first year and 0.28 standard deviations in the second year, with the largest gains in math. Moreover, the weakest students, who were the primary target of the program, gained the most. Researchers estimate that the entire effect of the program was due to a very large (0.6 standard deviations) improvement in average test scores among the children who were sent for remedial education. In contrast, there was no measurable impact for their classroom peers, who did not receive remedial tutoring, but were “treated” with smaller class sizes and a more homogenous classroom.
Balsakhi Turnover: There was rapid turnover among the balsakhi tutors, with each tutor staying on average for just one year, typically until they got married or got another job. Despite the high turnover among tutors, the program still resulted in significant gains in student learning, which suggests that the success of the program did not depend on a handful of very determined and enthusiastic individuals.
Cost-Effectiveness: The Balsakhi program was very inexpensive, since the main cost of the program was the tutors' relatively small salaries. Overall, the Balsakhi program cost approximately US$2.25 per child per year, significantly less than the cost per child of a Computer Assisted Learning program, evaluated by Pratham at the same time. In terms of cost per improvement in test scores, researchers estimate an attractive cost-effectiveness of about US$0.67 per standard deviation increase in test scores. The Balsakhi program has since been adapted, re-evaluated, and scaled up across India.
The vast majority of HIV cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 2 million people become infected with HIV/AIDS every year. One quarter of these new HIV infections are among people under 25, and almost all are due to unprotected sex. AIDS is incurable and no successful AIDS vaccine has been developed. Ensuring the adoption of safer sexual behavior among youth is critical to preventing the transmission of this disease. However, there is surprisingly little evidence concerning the relative effectiveness of different programs to reduce risky sexual behavior.
Kenya has the 10th largest HIV infected population in the world – nearly 7% of Kenyans are infected.[i] Children are seen as a “window of hope” in the fight against AIDS, because their sexual patterns are not firmly established. In an effort to prevent HIV infections in new generations, in the late 1990s UNICEF and the Kenya Institute of Education jointly developed an AIDS education curriculum, including student and teacher handbooks. However, by 2003, this curriculum had not been fully implemented, likely due to teacher inexperience and discomfort with talking about this sensitive material.
Description of the Intervention:
This evaluation tested two interventions to reduce risky sexual behavior: training teachers on the existing HIV curriculum, and reducing the costs of schooling by providing free uniforms. The 328 study schools were randomly assigned to one of four groups of about 82 schools. Each of the four groups of schools received a different set of programs:
In groups 1 and 3, three teachers were trained on HIV/AIDS and on how to teach the HIV curriculum. The curriculum covers facts about the disease, and encourages abstinence until marriage and faithfulness afterwards. It also teaches life skills, such as how to say “no” to unwanted or unsafe sexual relations.
In groups 2 and 3, children already enrolled in sixth grade classes were given a free uniform. Implementers also announced that students still enrolled in school the following year would be eligible for a second uniform, and distributed uniforms again the following year.
All in all, group 1 schools received the teacher training program only, group 2 schools received the uniforms program only, group 3 schools received both programs, group 4 received no program at all and thus served as a comparison group.
To evaluate the impact of the two programs on sexual behavior and sexual health, survey data was collected on youths’ sexual behavior. Such survey data can be subject to reporting biases, however. It was therefore important to complement this data with an objective measure of the incidence of unprotected sex, which is the main mode of HIV transmission in Kenya. Two such measures were considered: (1) childbearing rates and (2) STI infection rates. Childbearing rates were monitored regularly between 2003 and 2010. STI infection rates (specifically, Herpes and HIV infection rates) were measured during a long-term follow-up in 2009-2010.
Impact of Teacher Training only: Training teachers on how to implement the national HIV/AIDS curriculum greatly increased the likelihood that teachers teach about HIV in the classroom. Two years after the training students whose teachers had been trained had greater knowledge about the disease and also reported more tolerant attitudes toward those with AIDS. However, the intervention did not reduce childbearing rates among girls, suggesting that it did not decrease the likelihood that girls engage in unprotected sex. It also did not reduce the risk of STI as measured after 6-7 years.
Impact of Free Uniforms only: Free school uniforms led students to stay enrolled for significantly longer, and reduced the incidence of teen marriage and teen pregnancy. Girls who benefitted from free uniforms were not less likely to have an STI after 6-7 years, however, suggesting that some of the adolescent girls in the free uniforms program, while less likely to engage in committed relationships that lead to pregnancy and marriage, might have engaged in casual relationships.
Combined Impact: In schools that received both free uniforms and teacher training on the HIV/AIDS curriculum, the reduction in drop-outs and teenage pregnancy among girls was lower than that observed in schools that received free uniforms only. This suggests that the curriculum’s emphasis on abstinence until marriage may have persuaded some girls who would have delayed marriage thanks to the free uniforms to instead privilege committed relationships, where pregnancies are more likely. On the other hand, the two programs combined led to a significant reduction in the risk of STI. This suggests that among girls who chose to delay marriage in order to stay in school with the free uniform, the HIV curriculum convinced some to abstain altogether in order to avoid the STI risk associated with casual relationships.
"Brain drain", or the emigration of skilled workers, is one of the most common concerns African countries have about migration. Yet migration, broadly speaking, plays a significant role in economic development in the form of remittances and continued interaction of migrants with their home countries.
In order to provide more empirical evidence on the determinants and effects of skilled workers' migration, we propose to collect primary data on 1976-2004 cohorts of top high (secondary) school students in Ghana.
The project will analyze various aspects of the "brain drain" issue, including the reasons for migration of the highly skilled and the channels through which highly skilled migration affects the sending country (such as whether there is any evidence for involvement in trade facilitation, knowledge transfer, the level of remittances sent, etc.). The project will also provide insights into the optimal design of education policy when facing increasingly globalized labor markets.
Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, schistosomiasis and whipworm—infect more than one in three people worldwide and at least 800 million of these are school-age children. Worms are believed to have a negative impact on child development, and can contribute to lower educational attainment and income later in life. Intestinal worms can be effectively treated with low-cost drugs, but treatment must be continued indefinitely to prevent re-infection. Finding sustainable approaches to providing deworming drugs is a pressing research question, as most deworming interventions are currently financed by external institutions. Practices such as health education or cost-sharing may be able to increase program sustainability, but there is little systematic evidence on this matter.
Context of the Evaluation:
Busia district is a poor and densely-settled farming region in western Kenya adjacent to Lake Victoria. This area has some of the country’s highest helminth infection rates; upwards of 90 percent of children aged 6-18 are infected. This is in part due to the area’s proximity to Lake Victoria—schistosomiasis is easily contracted through contact with the infected lake water. Other types of helminths can be transmitted through contact with or ingestion of fecal matter. This can occur, for example, if children do not have access to a latrine and instead defecate in the fields near their home or school, areas where they also play.
The prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as worms is a priority for health officials, and more efficient and sustainable programs could enable the delivery of health care to a larger number of people. Advocates of improving sustainability concentrate on health education, community mobilization, and cost-recovery from program beneficiaries, to complement the more standard practice of subsidizing health products.
Details of the Intervention:
This study evaluated the Primary School Deworming Project (PSDP), which was carried out by NGO International Child Support in 75 schools, randomly divided into three groups (1, 2, and 3) and phased into treatment over several years. All schools with helminth prevalence over 50 percent were treated periodically with albendazole, as well as with praziquantel if the local prevalence of schistosomiasis was high enough.
Cost-Sharing: In 2001, 25 of the 50 Group 1 and Group 2 schools were randomly selected to pay user fees for deworming treatment. Two thirds of the schools participating in cost-sharing received albendazole at a cost of US$0.40 per family, and one third received both albendazole and praziquantel (depending on the local prevalence of schistosomiasis) at a cost of US$1.30 per family. The per family basis of the fee introduced within-school variation in the per-child cost of deworming, since households have different numbers of children.
Health Education: In addition to medicine, all treatment schools received regular public health lectures, wall charts on worm prevention, and training for two teachers from each school. The lectures and teacher training provided information on worm prevention behaviors—including washing hands before meals, wearing shoes, and not swimming in the lake.
Verbal Commitments: A verbal commitment "mobilization" intervention asked people to verbally commit in advance to adopt the deworming drugs.
Social Learning: A questionnaire was conducted in 2001 to test whether households with more “social links” to schools which received early treatment would be more likely to take deworming drugs. Respondents were asked about the friends and relatives they speak with most frequently about child health issues, and the degree of “linkage” to treatment schools was established on this basis.
Results and Policy Lessons:
Cost-Sharing Intervention: The introduction of a small fee for deworming drugs led to an 80 percent reduction in treatment rates, consistent with the hypothesis that people have low private valuation for deworming. Take-up dropped sharply when going from a zero price to a positive price, but was not sensitive to the exact positive price level, suggesting that it may be counter-productive to charge small positive prices for the treatment of infectious diseases.
Health Education & Verbal Commitment Impact: An intensive school health education intervention had no impact on worm prevention behaviors. Child health is likely to be worsened to the extent that funds are diverted from medical treatment into health education in this setting. Asking people in advance whether they planned to take deworming drugs also had no impact on adoption.
Social Learning: Individuals in treatment schools who had more extensive social networks, and therefore presumably had more information about deworming drugs, were significantly less likely to consent to take the drugs. For each additional social link to a family that had already received treatment, a family’s child was 3.1 percentage points less likely to take the drugs, and these individuals were also more likely to believe the drugs are “not effective.” Negative social effects on take up are especially large for families with more knowledge about deworming, which may be due to overly optimistic prior beliefs about the net private benefits of the drug. A high proportion of deworming benefits flows not to the treated child or her family, but to others in the local community through positive externalities; the lower take-up among those with more deworming knowledge may reflect their understanding of this fact.
Overall, findings suggest that socially desirable health technologies with low private benefits may not spread on their own, due to low private estimations of the benefits that are reinforced through social networks.
Education in developing countries is often hindered by large class sizes and low teaching quality. Over the past decade many developing countries have expanded primary school access, energized by initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call for achieving universal primary education by 2015. But increased quantity has not always been matched with improved quality, and only 60 percent of appropriately aged children gain the skills necessary to attend secondary school worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, that number drops to only a quarter.1 There is a widespread belief that the provision of textbooks can substantially improve educational outcomes in developing countries, but there is little empirical evidence as to whether providing textbooks alone can overcome the effects of other systemic problems such as high teacher-student ratios and frequent absenteeism.
Context of the Evaluation:
In Kenya, 50 percent of families live below the poverty line, and high teacher absenteeism is reported in schools.2 Nevertheless the overwhelming majority of children start primary school. But some schools appear to promote only strong students to grade 8 in order to maintain high average scores on secondary school entrance exams, and those not promoted often drop out. Many students also drop out in earlier grades – 35 percent of the surveyed students in grade 3 dropped within the next three years.
Primary school is provided at a low cost, with some expenses, such as textbooks, paid by parents. Because of this cost, schools in Busia and Teso usually have textbooks for teachers to use, but few textbooks for children. At the start of this study, 80 percent of students in the sample were in classrooms with less than one English textbook for every 20 students, and the analogous figures for math and science textbooks were 78 percent and 89 percent, respectively. Government officials and NGOs are hopeful that textbook provision will improve test scores, encouraging higher grade attainment and overall improved educational outcomes.
Details of the Intervention:
In 1995, International Child Support (ICS) began a program to improve primary education in Kenya’s Busia and Teso districts by providing additional official government textbooks. J-PAL affiliates, in an effort to determine the impact which textbooks have on students, teachers, and overall learning, evaluated this program. ICS randomly divided 100 needy, low performing schools into four even groups. In each year, program schools were compared to those not yet receiving the program.
Distribution of Textbooks
Math books provided to grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
English provided to 3, 5 and 7
Science and Agriculture provided to grade 8
Grant equal to US$2.65 per student, 43% of which was spent on textbooks
Similar grant in 1998 school year
Similar grant in 2000 school year
Sharing textbooks is common in Kenya, and two or three students typically share a workspace. Hence, a 60 percent textbook per pupil ratio was provided in English and science, and a 50 percent ratio was provided in math, giving nearly all students shared access to a textbook. A pre-test in the form of a district exam was administered to all schools before the textbooks were distributed, and district exam scores were collected at the end of each of the subsequent program years for comparison data. Classroom activities, attendance and dropout rates were also monitored.
Results and Policy Lessons:
This study found no evidence that textbook provision increased average test scores, or that it reduced either grade repetition or dropout rates. Textbooks increased progression to secondary school for eighth graders but did not reduce grade repetition or raise attendance in lower grades. This provides evidence for the hypothesis that the program mostly benefited strong students, since only strong students reach grade 8 and have a hope to progress to secondary school, while many students in the lower grades were actually unable to read the textbooks. Students in grade 8, a selective and academically strong group, were 5 percentage points more likely to enter secondary school in the second program year than comparison school students.
Kenyan students are extremely heterogeneous in their family background, preparation for schooling, and economic circumstances. The Kenyan curriculum remains oriented to elites with language of instruction in English, most students' third language. Textbooks are meant to pair with this curriculum, arguably better suited toward elite students and ill-suited for academically weaker students. The evidence from this evaluation supports such a picture of the Kenyan education system, and suggests that better suited materials might produce achievement gains in a wider section of the population.
Children in developing countries face numerous barriers to accessing basic education. According to the World Bank, school fees (fees for books, materials and some exams) are among the major obstacles to universal primary education in developing countries. Several countries in sub-Saharan Africa have taken strides towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015 by eliminating school fees,but other significant costs remain, including the cost of providing a school uniform for a child. Many governments and NGOs have sought to overcome this barrier by offering free or subsidized uniforms to particular students, often as part of a “child sponsorship” program. However, no prior studies have examined the impact of providing school uniforms on school participation and education outcomes.
Context of the Evaluation:
In Kenya, students were required to pay school fees to attend school through 2002. In January 2003, a new government policy eliminated fees, which had amounted to approximately US$4 in the Busia area, and also provided basic textbooks. Students were, however, still required to purchase and wear uniforms, and historically, students who did not wear uniforms could be sent away from school at the discretion of the principal. School uniforms cost between US$4.33 and $7.33 for girls and between US$5.40 and $7.33 for boys. Amongst sampled primary schools in rural Busia, 78% of students were likely to be wearing uniforms, but only 5% to be wearing shoes.
Description of Intervention:
The NGO ICS-Africa operates a Child Sponsorship Program (CSP) in Western Kenya, in which children sponsored by donors in the Netherlands and elsewhere receive school fees and school uniforms. Some portion of the sponsorship fee paid by the donors is used to give general assistance to the school: grants for construction, health care programs, and agricultural programs. In 2002 ICS-Africa planned to phase CSP into several new schools and agreed to randomize the aspects of the program directed at individual children. ICS used a lottery to distribute some of the child sponsorships within each of twelve primary schools in western Kenya.
The Kenyan school year runs from January to December. In mid-January 2002, ICS organized a census of children in standards one through four of the twelve selected schools. Based on that census, ICS selected all children who had experienced one or both parent deaths (orphans) to receive sponsorships.It then used a lottery to randomly select the remaining beneficiaries, and studied the effects on this population.
Schools immediately received some basic benefits from being sponsored. A pair of ICS nurses visited each school several times a year and provided basic first aid to any child or local adult who requested it. An agricultural representative organized student clubs to grow crops on the school grounds. In fall 2002, each school received a sizeable grant for classroom construction, for desks, and for books. The only individual benefit that sponsored children received was a school uniform; in June 2002, uniforms were distributed to all sponsored children who were still in school.
An attendance dataset recorded pupil attendance at each of the twelve schools from 2002 through the end of 2004. Attendance was gathered as field officers made unannounced visits to each school multiple times each year and recorded whether each child was present. From these multiple visits, an annual child attendance average is collected.
Results and Policy Lessons:
Results indicate a strong positive impact of receiving a school uniform on student school participation. Giving a uniform reduces school absenteeism by 6.4 percentage points (43%) from a base of 15% school absenteeism. The effect is 3.4 percentage points larger for students who did not have a uniform at the baseline. This is a major reduction in absenteeism from a baseline school attendance level of 85%.
The program appears to have had a positive impact on test scores in 2003, raising average test-scores of recipients by one quarter of a standard deviation. While the average test scores of uniform recipients are still observed to be higher two years after the program started by one fifth of a standard deviation, the effect is less precisely estimated.
The average effect of the program is an increase in school participation of 0.064 years per treated child. The average cost of a school uniform is 436.86 Kenyan shillings (US$5.82). Thus, the cost of increasing school by one year is $5.82 / 0.064, or US$90.94. While this is more than other interventions, such as deworming, which were tested in this area, it is still considerably less than the cost of many programs which give beneficiaries cash, rather than goods.
The Kenyan Life Panel Survey (KLPS) builds on an existing longitudinal dataset of educational, health and demographic information for approximately 6800 pupils in Western Kenya collected from 1998-2003, and extends it for another 6 years. In particular KLPS seeks to examine the long-run impact of a recent school-based health program - the Primary School Deworming Project - which provided free treatment for intestinal helminthes (worms) to pupils in 75 rural primary schools phased in over 5 years. The project found that deworming had significant health and nutritional impacts, as well as leading to dramatic gains in school attendance and enrollment. After five years, educational attainment was significantly higher among early treatment school children. Evidence from KLPS linking child health gains (from deworming) and adult human capital formation could be used to justify increased investment in child health and nutrition programs.
The KLPS tracks individuals throughout Kenya using a rigorous two stage tracking system. During the first round of household survey data collection, IPA made direct contact with nearly 85% of target individuals. Round 2 survey data collection is currently underway.