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Pitfalls of participatory programs : evidence from a randomized evaluation in education in India

  • Banerjee, Abhijit V.
  • Banerji, Rukmini
  • Duflo, Esther
  • Glennerster, Rachel
  • Khemani, Stuti

Participation of beneficiaries in the monitoring of public services is increasingly seen as key to improving their efficiency. In India, the current government flagship program on universal primary education organizes community members, specifically locally elected leaders and parents of children enrolled in public schools, into committees and gives these powers over resource allocation, monitoring and management of school performance. However, in a baseline survey this paper finds that people were not aware of the existence of these committees and their potential for improving education. The paper evaluates three different interventions to encourage beneficiaries'participation: providing information, training community members in a new testing tool, and training and organizing volunteers to hold remedial reading camps for illiterate children. The authors find that these interventions had no impact on community involvement in public schools, and no impact on teacher effort or learning outcomes in those schools. However, the intervention that trained volunteers to teach children to read had large impact on activity outside public schools -- local youths volunteered to be trained, and children who attended these camps substantially improved their reading skills. These results suggest that citizens face substantial constraints in participating to improve the public education system, even when they care about education and are willing to do something to improve it.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4584.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4584
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  1. 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.
  2. Anne Marie Goetz & Rob Jenkins, 2001. "Hybrid Forms Of Accountability: Citizen engagement in institutions of public-sector oversight in India," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 363-383, September.
  3. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Michael Kremer, 2003. "Teacher Incentives," NBER Working Papers 9671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  5. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Pascaline Dupas & Samuel Sinei, 2006. "Education and hiv/aids prevention: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in western kenya," Framed Field Experiments 00143, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
  7. Sharon Barnhardt & Dean Karlan & Stuti Khemani, 2009. "Participation in a School Incentive Programme in India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(3), pages 369-390.
  8. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael & Sinei, Samuel, 2006. "Education and HIV/AIDS prevention : evidence from a randomized evaluation in Western Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4024, The World Bank.
  9. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2006. "Addressing Absence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 117-132, Winter.
  10. Benjamin Olken, 2005. "Monitoring corruption: Evidence from a field experiment in indonesia," Natural Field Experiments 00317, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2005. "Money for nothing : the dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3669, The World Bank.
  12. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Sawada, Yasuyuki, 1999. "Do Community-Managed Schools Work? An Evaluation of El Salvador's EDUCO Program," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(3), pages 415-41, September.
  13. Martina Björkman & Jakob Svensson, 2009. "Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 735-769.
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