Educational and Health Impacts of Two School Feeding Schemes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso
We use a prospective randomized trial to assess the impact of two school feeding schemes on educational and health outcomes of children from low income household in northern rural Burkina Faso. The two school feeding programs under consideration are, on the one hand, school meals where students are provided with lunch each school day, and, on the other hand, take home rations which provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. After the program ran for one academic year, we found that both school feeding schemes increased girls’ enrollment by 5 to 6 percentage points. While we did not observe any significant impact on raw scores on mathematics, we observed that the time-adjusted scores on mathematics improved slightly for girls. An unexpected lower average absenteeism was observed. We argue that this reflects the absence of an active labor market and the fact that households are labor constrained and/or child labor is complementary to adult labor. We show that the interventions caused absenteeism to increase in households who are low in child labor supply while absenteeism decreased for households which have a relatively large child labor supply, consistent with the labor constraints. This, in turn, explains the mixed impacts on learning outcomes that we observed. Finally, for younger siblings of beneficiaries, aged between 12 and 60 months who were not in school, take home rations have increased weight-for-age by .38 standard deviations and weight-for-height by .33 standard deviations. In contrast, school meals did not have any significant impact on the nutrition of younger children.
|Date of creation:||2009|
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