The objective of this trial is to analyze the effect of a secondary school scholarship for youth from the poorest households in a set of relatively remote and food-insecure kebeles in rural Ethiopia on secondary school enrollment and progression, as well as a set of related non-academic outcomes of interest.
More specifically, the trial seeks to address the following research questions:
1) What is the impact of a secondary school scholarship (announced in March 2023) on the primary outcome of interest, secondary school enrollment, for eligible students in the poorest 10—15% of households in rural Ethiopia (specifically, households eligible for the Productive Safety Net Program or PSNP)? Eligible students include the grade eight cohort, who will complete grade eight in spring 2023 and may be eligible to enroll in secondary school in fall 2023, conditional on passing the primary school leaving certificate exam; the grade seven cohort, who will complete grade eight in spring 2024 and may be eligible to enroll the following fall, conditional on passing the exam; and the dropout cohort, students who passed the exam in spring 2021 or 2022 but failed to enroll in secondary school (or enrolled and later dropped out), and who will now have an opportunity to return in fall 2023. (In all cases, students must also be in households currently receiving PSNP benefits to be eligible.)
2) What is the impact of the secondary school scholarship on secondary outcomes including passing rates on the primary school leaving exam; attendance and academic performance in secondary school, once enrolled; engagement in economic activities among youth; and early marriage?
3) Do the effects of the secondary school scholarship differ across cohorts? (Note, this comparison will not exploit a dimension of randomization, but will entail a comparison of the treatment effects for different cohorts; if there are other time-varying shocks to youth enrollment patterns in this period, that may be a source of bias in these comparisons.)