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Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya


  • Sylvie Moulin
  • Michael Kremer
  • Paul Glewwe


A randomized evaluation in rural Kenya finds, contrary to the previous literature, that providing textbooks did not raise average test scores. Textbooks did increase the scores of the best students (those with high pretest scores) but had little effect on other students. Textbooks are written in English, most students' third language, and many students could not use them effectively. More generally, the curriculum in Kenya, and in many other developing countries, tends to be oriented toward academically strong students, leaving many students behind in societies that combine a centralized educational system; the heterogeneity in student preparation associated with rapid educational expansion; and disproportionate elite power. (JEL O15, I21, I28, J13)

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvie Moulin & Michael Kremer & Paul Glewwe, 2009. "Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 112-135, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:112-35 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.1.112

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying education: Evidence from two randomized experiments in india," Framed Field Experiments 00122, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
    3. Hanushek, Eric A, 1995. "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 227-246, August.
    4. Pritchett, Lant & Filmer, Deon, 1999. "What education production functions really show: a positive theory of education expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 223-239, April.
    5. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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