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Education as Liberation?
Last registered on June 28, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Education as Liberation?
Initial registration date
June 28, 2016
Last updated
June 28, 2016 7:55 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Department of Economics
PI Affiliation
University of California, Berkeley and NBER
PI Affiliation
Harvard University and NBER
PI Affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This paper studies the political and social impacts of increased education by utilizing a randomized girls’ merit scholarship programme in Kenya that raised test scores and secondary schooling. Consistent with the view that education empowers the disadvantaged to challenge authority, we find that the programme reduced the acceptance of domestic violence and political authority. Young women in programme schools
also increased their objective political knowledge. We find that this rejection of the status quo did not translate into greater perceived political efficacy, community participation or voting intentions. Instead, there is suggestive evidence that the perceived legitimacy of political violence increased.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Friedman, Willa et al. 2016. "Education as Liberation?." AEA RCT Registry. June 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1183-1.0.
Former Citation
Friedman, Willa et al. 2016. "Education as Liberation?." AEA RCT Registry. June 28. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1183/history/9154.
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Experimental Details
In 2001 and 2002, the Girls Scholarship Program (GSP) by the NGO ICS, provided an award to grade 6 girls in treatment schools whose performance on the government’s standardized end-of-year exam placed them in the top 15% (among all girls in the treatment schools). The award included a grant of 500 KSh (or roughly US$6.40 at the time) paid to the girl’s school to cover school fees, and a cash grant of 1,000 KSh (or US$12.80) paid to the girl’s family to pay for other school expenses, in each of the two years following the competition, covering the last two years of primary school. Thus the total award for winners was valued at nearly US$38 over two years. The awards were presented at assemblies with students, parents, teachers, and local officials.

A follow-up survey was undertaken from late 2005 through early 2007, approximately four to five years after the GSP, when sample individuals were young women between 17 and 21 years of age. The survey collected household data, literacy scores and social and political beliefs.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Gains in education
2) Autonomy within household
3) Political and social attitudes
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) Gains in human capital: measured through literacy test and schooling attainment
2) Autonomy within household: impact on attitude towards domestic violence and arranged marriages; knowledge of contraceptives; fertility; age of marriage; desired spouse characteristics
3) Political and social attitudes: impact on ethnic attachments, secularization, and attitudes toward democracy. Perceived efficacy of political processes, community participation, and acceptance of the use of violence in politics.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experimental design is that of the original GSP scholarship competition conducted in Busia district. The randomization into treatment and control schools was carried out using a computer random number generator, after first stratifying by administrative division and participation in a previous NGO program (that distributed flip-charts as classroom learning aids) also carried out by ICS. The intervention resulted in improved academic performance not only for girls at the top of the class, i.e. those likely to win the scholarship, but spillover effects on those who were unlikely to win.

This study conducts a follow up survey to see whether the academic gains translate to salient political beliefs. Enumerators tracked down girls from both the control and treatment groups tracking them wherever they moved in Kenya or elsewhere in East Africa (e.g., Uganda). This resulted in an effective survey follow up rate of nearly 80%.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer random number generator
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
69 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,387 girls
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 664 girls
Treatment: 723 girls
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
UC Berkeley CPHS
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
February 28, 2007, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
February 28, 2007, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
69 schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,387 girls
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Control: 664 girls Treatment: 723 girls
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)

We study a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program in which Kenyan girls who scored well on academic exams had school fees paid and received a grant. Girls showed substantial exam score gains, and teacher attendance improved in program schools. There were positive externalities for girls with low pretest scores, who were unlikely to win a scholarship. We see no evidence for weakened intrinsic motivation. There were heterogeneous program effects. In one of the two districts, there were large exam gains and positive spillovers to boys. In the other, attrition complicates estimation, but we cannot reject the hypothesis of no program effect.
Kremer, Michael, Edward Miguel, and Rebecca Thornton. 2009. "Incentives to Learn." The Review of Economics and Statistics91(3): 537-56.

Less developed regions have experienced massive increases in both education and democracy over the past half century, and it is widely claimed that many recent democratic transitions have been propelled by increasingly educated youth populations. Scholars have also speculated about education’s social and political impacts, variously arguing that education promotes “modern” pro-democratic and secular attitudes and weakens ethnic attachments; that it instills acceptance of existing authority; and that it empowers the disadvantaged. These views have informed international efforts to promote education in poor countries, often focusing on girls. We assess the social and political impacts of a randomized girls’ merit scholarship incentive program in Kenya that raised test scores and secondary school enrollment. Counter to modernization theory, increased human capital did not produce more pro-democratic or secular attitudes and, if anything, it strengthened ethnic identification. Consistent with the empowerment view, young women in program schools had fewer arranged marriages and were less likely to accept domestic violence as legitimate. Moreover, the program increased objective political knowledge, and reduced both acceptance of political authorities and satisfaction with politics. However, in our Kenyan context, this rejection of the status quo did not translate into greater perceived political efficacy, community participation or voting intentions. Instead, the program increased the perceived legitimacy of political violence. We argue that selection bias may account for the view that education instills greater acceptance of authority.
Friedman, Willa, Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, and Rebecca Thornton. "Education as Liberation?" Working Paper, University of California, Berkeley, April 2011.