|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 |
|Several developing countries have decentralized control over public schools to their local communities, with the goals of enhancing accountability and improving school outcomes. However, too often this decentralization is meaningless as the communities have very low awareness of their roles and entitled services, and their participation in school management remains abysmal. Availability of information can be a powerful catalyst towards stimulating public demand for quality services. This study evaluates the impact of an information campaign on school outcomes in three states in India. The campaign provided parents with information on their oversight roles in schools and the education services they are entitled to. Results show that providing information improves both oversight capacity of communities and learning outcomes, while lowering wastage of public resources by increasing teacher effort in classrooms, particularly in lagging states.|
The intervention was a community-based campaign that gave information to parents on their oversight roles in the local governance of schools and the education services. The researchers’ hypothesis was that school outcomes will improve from enhanced monitoring if communities are empowered with such information. A key feature of the campaign was community-wide big public meetings that parents, teachers and school committee were invited to attend. Invitations to meetings were broadly publicized. A typical meeting lasted 30-40 minutes during which a short film was screened and there was opportunity for the audience to ask questions and have discussions. After the meeting, calendars containing the detailed information from the meeting and learning assessment booklets were distributed door-to-door. Posters and wall paintings containing information highlights were displayed in the primary school and other prominent locations. The campaign ended with approximately 11-14 repeat meetings in every village spanning over a two and half year period.
- Schools located in villages that received campaign training noted higher rates of teacher attendance and engagement in teaching. The greatest impact was on socially “powerful” teachers with permanent jobs– the ones who had initially put in lowest efforts.
- Researchers also found a consistent increase in the share of children acquiring mathematics competencies. However there was no difference in performance in the language component of the test.
- School committees became more active and functional after the campaign. Committees met more frequently, member participation in meetings and in school visits increased significantly.
- Focus groups illustrate the process of change. A large percent of parents discussed the disseminated information with others, and brought up issues of learning and teacher absence with teachers and school committees.
- The impact differed across states; bigger gains were noted in the two lagging states which had low school outcomes to begin with, while gains were smaller in the third state which had a much higher starting point.
Sangeeta Goyal is a Senior Economist in the South Asia Human Development unit of the World Bank, Delhi office. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University. Goyal works on Vocational Training and Skill Development projects in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Her current research spans work that explores the impact of school and teacher quality on school outcomes, school-to-work transition of youth, and factors associated with youth employability.
Priyanka Pandey is a consultant in the South Asia Human Development unit of the World Bank. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. Examples of her recent work include a randomized evaluation of information campaigns as a means to improving accountability and field experiments to test the hypothesis that a legacy of historical discrimination against socially disadvantaged groups is to weaken their responses to economic incentives.
Venkatesh Sundararaman is a Senior Economist in the South Asia Human Development unit of the World Bank, Nepal Country Office. Sundaraman works on education and social protection issues in the South Asia region. He has worked on projects focusing on school education, higher education, and technical and vocational education and training in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
Working paper: Does Information Improve School Accountability? Results of a Large Randomized Trial