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Empowering Parents in Mexico: Small Funds, Big Changes

What will it take for schools in developing countries to deliver good quality education? This research study presents the impact evidence of a program that aims at making schools more accountable. To view more research studies go to Impact Evaluation Profiles 
Empowering schools and parents has a long tradition in development programs. Starting from grants, evolving to parental empowerment, and now even to whole school development, various approaches have been tried. Evidence on the impact of such approaches is beginning to emerge. This impact evaluation of a school-based management program in Mexico has found that empowering parents with small grants to make physical improvements in their schools can stimulate significant increases in student learning outcomes in a relatively short period of time. However, researchers continue to study the program for impact over time and heterogeneous effects.
The Intervention | The Impact | Specialist Profiles  | Links


The Apoyo a la Gestión Escolar (AGE) project in Mexico, which gives seed funds to parent associations, was implemented in 250 pilot schools during three consecutive school years, from 2007 to 2010. Half of these schools received double the usual amount – from around $600 to $1200 – to conduct school-improvement projects. Funding was jointly provided by the Ministry of Education and the private sector as a public-private partnership. The aim of the project was to show the benefit of focusing on families, not just students, to improve school accountability and academic performance. The AGE was part of a larger World Bank Loan for education in Mexico, which aimed to consolidate, and expand quality improvements in pre-school, and primary education, through infrastructure improvements, didactic materials provision, teacher training, school supervision, implementation of school-based management strategies, and continued strengthening of local-level institutional capacity.

The Impact

  • Results showed a marked improvement in test scores for double-dose AGE schools, especially for indigenous schools.
  • Drop-out rates fell by over 1.5 percentage points and consequently students moved ahead by about a year in reading and in math.
  • At the school level, test scores for third graders increased by up to 20 points, or about 0.25 standard deviations in Spanish and by about 0.22 standard deviations in Math.
  • At the individual student level, positive effects were seen in third, fifth and sixth graders. In the third grade, the results for all students increased by 15 points in Spanish and 13 points in Math, representing about 0.15 and 0.09 standard deviations.

Specialist Profiles

Paul Gertler is Professor of Business Administration at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Gertler's research explores health, childhood development, and micro-finance in developing countries. He has also conducted field research on health care payment systems in Rwanda, conditional cash transfers in Mexico, aging in Bangladesh, and contraception and fertility in Indonesia.

Peter Holland is Senior Education Specialist and Team leader for the Mexico Basic Education Project, he was based in Port-au-Prince from 2007-2009 and continues to work on Haiti now. He works on projects in Mexico, Bolivia and Central America, and serves as the Latin American and Caribbean regional focal point for Early Childhood Development.

Harry Anthony Patrinos is Lead Education Economist and the Lead Investigator for this impact evaluation. Harry specializes in all areas of education, especially school-based management, demand-side financing and public-private partnerships. He manages several randomized trials and was one of the authors of the recent book, Making Schools Work. He managed education lending operations and analytical work programs in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, as well as a regional research project on the socioeconomic status of Latin America’s Indigenous Peoples, published as Indigenous Peoples, Poverty and Human Development in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Harry holds a PhD from the University of Sussex. Prior to joining the World Bank he worked as an economist at the Economic Council of Canada.

Eduardo Rodríguez-Oreggia y Román is Director of Doctoral Programs at EGAP, Campus Estado de México, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. He has a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics. Previously he was Research Coordinator at IIDSES, UIA; advisor at Sedesol; and Coordinator of Research and Studies at CISS. Marta Rubio Codina is a Research Economist in the Center for the Evaluation of Development Policies at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, London. Her research interests are in applied development economics, and in particular in education, early child development and household behavior. She works in the evaluation of social and educational government programs in Latin American, including the Mexican Conditional Cash Transfer program (Progresa /Oportunidades), the Compensatory Education Programs and other school-based managed initiatives in Mexico.



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