COVID-19 is likely to differentially impact educational access in low-income countries. First, this study provides high-frequency descriptive data on schooling attitudes, home environment, and at-home learning for a representative sample of Busia County 8th Graders. Researchers conducted a phone survey of 2,973 8th grade students and their parents from 198 schools across Busia County. This is a key age group, as 8th grade marks the transition from primary to secondary school. Students already face barriers transitioning to secondary school due to the high fees, difficult application process, appeal of outside work, and possibility of teen pregnancy. The pandemic may increase students’ likelihood of dropping out of school. In the survey, researchers collected data on secondary school attitudes, household characteristics, and learning at home. In particular, they examined student access to the five EdTech initiatives: radio, television, mobile/ internet platforms such as YouTube, the “Education Cloud”, and SMS messaging.
Second, the study will examines the extent to which a previous schooling intervention, aimed at helping eighth-graders transition to secondary school, can mitigate the educational impacts of the crisis. Specifically, researchers will analyze the results of randomized-controlled-trial in 308 primary schools that randomly varies information sharing between parents, teachers, and children. Schools are randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) parent-teacher-child-meetings, (2) teacher-child meetings, and (3) no meeting. Both meetings provide information about quality, cost, and admission cutoffs of nearby secondary schools. The parent-teacher-child meeting additionally allows parents and children to learn about each other’s preferences. Using administrative data, they will evaluate the effect of these meetings on secondary school application choices, enrollment, and educational attainment.
- Students are learning at home, but spending much less time studying at home than they would at school: 98 percent of students studied at home in the week before the interview, and spent 2.2 hours studying per day.
- Accessible EdTech platforms (radio, television, and SMS) successfully reach students where more expensive options fail: 67 percent of students used at least one EdTech platform in the last week. Radio is by far the most popular platform, with 44 percent of students listening to radio lessons in the previous week. This is followed by television and SMS lessons, with 26 percent and 18 percent utilizing each of these services, respectively.
- Richer students benefit more from EdTech due to greater technology access: Students from higher income households are significantly more likely to access one or more of the EdTech platforms. This is driven by the fact that students from higher income families are 27 percent more likely to use the television to watch lessons than students from lower income families.