Improving Education in the Developing World: What Have We Learned from Randomized Evaluations?
AbstractAcross a range of contexts, reductions in education costs and provision of subsidies can boost school participation, often dramatically. Decisions to attend school seem subject to peer effects and time-inconsistent preferences. Merit scholarships, school health programs, and information about returns to education can all cost-effectively spur school participation. However, distortions in education systems, such as weak teacher incentives and eliteoriented curricula, undermine learning in school and much of the impact of increasing existing educational spending. Pedagogical innovations designed to address these distortions (such as technology-assisted instruction, remedial education, and tracking by achievement) can raise test scores at a low cost. Merely informing parents about school conditions seems insufficient to improve teacher incentives, and evidence on merit pay is mixed, but hiring teachers locally on short-term contracts can save money and improve educational outcomes. School vouchers can cost-effectively increase both school participation and learning.
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