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Decentralizing education expenditures: primary school community grants in Niger
Initial registration date
March 14, 2016
March 14, 2016 6:04 PM EDT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Sciences Po, Department of Economics
Additional Trial Information
Decentralizing school management has been a common strategy to increase school quality. This study implies that strategies to improve school quality through parents participation should take levels of community capacity into account. We test the short-term responses to a grant to school committee in a context where parents have low authority and little experience managing funds. We find that parents supplemented the grant with their own inputs and increased their participation in school management. Enrollment at the lowest grades and school resources improved. However, teacher were absent more, and there was no impact on test scores.
Beasley, Elizabeth and Elise Huillery. 2016. "Decentralizing education expenditures: primary school community grants in Niger." AEA RCT Registry. March 14.
In collaboration with the Niger Ministry of Education and the World Bank, used a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of the grants on community participation and how the impact varies by community characteristics. One thousand schools in the regions of Tahoua and Zinder were randomly selected into treatment and comparison groups. The 500 schools in the treatment group each received an annual lump sum based on the number of classrooms in the school, with an average of US$209 per school, or US$1.83 per student. All 500 schools in the treatment group received a general letter informing them of the grant program and its objectives, and the grant amount allocated to their school. It also included general guidelines on the use of the grants, but the specific project to be supported by the grants was left open to the schools.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- parents' involvement and responsibility
- cooperation between school stakeholders - accountability
- school spendings
- school quality: infrastructure, enrollment, teacher attendance, test scores
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
For parent participation in school, the paper uses indices of parent contributions (e.g. school fees), involvement (e.g. going to meetings), responsibility (e.g. in charge of supplies), and teacher oversight (e.g. monitoring teacher attendance).
School management is measured by two indices, accountability (e.g. keeping records) and cooperation (e.g. reported conflicts)
Total spending is decomposed across eight possible spending categories (infrastructure, supplies and textbooks, pupil educational support (e.g. remedial courses), pupil health, teacher support (e.g. housing), COGES expenses (e.g. travel to regional meetings), school festivals and playground, and investments in agriculture)
School quality is measured by : - Four indices: infrastructure (e.g. number of desks), materials (e.g. textbooks), health resources (e.g. first aid kit), and teacher effort (e.g. teacher attendance). - Besides, we use scores to tests independently administered by the researchers as well as the annual administrative censuses which report the number of candidates for the national end-of-primary school exam and the number who passed. - Finally, participation in education is measured by the number of dropouts reported by the school to our surveyors at the April/May 2008 questionnaire on the one hand, and the change in enrollment from fall 2007 to fall 2008 reported to the Ministry of Education in the annual administrative censuses on the other hand.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Low population density, vast distances, and limited transportation, information, and communications infrastructure makes supervision of primary schools by the central government very costly, and the transmission of timely, local information to the central authorities for planning purposes is challenging. To address this problem, in 2006, the Ministry of Education introduced school committees (Committees de Gestion Scolaire, or COGES) in all primary schools. These school committees were designed to involve parents and community members in the school to improve accountability and management. To spur communities to take a more active role in the management of schools, the Ministry of Education also introduced a pilot project that distributed yearly cash grants to the school.
Researchers collected administrative data from each primary school, using the annual school census administered by the Ministry of Education. The census includes data on enrollment, teacher characteristics, school facilities and resources, and community characteristics. To supplement the administrative data, a detailed school survey was administered in 2008 to collect information on school infrastructure and resources, pupil enrollment and attendance, school improvement plan, school committee functioning and membership, and school activities. It also asked detailed questions about the level of education and personal wealth of the school committee members.
Experimental Design Details
randomization done in office by a computer
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
10 students per class, 3 classes per school, 1,000 schools = 30,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 schools control, 500 schools treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
February 28, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
February 28, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
498 out of the 500 schools assigned to treatment were actually treated, while 499 out of the 500 schools assigned to the control group complied with their status (i.e. one control school received a grant by mistake).
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Giving communities power over school management and spending decisions has been a favored strategy to increase school quality, but its effectiveness may be limited by weak capacity and low authority. We examine the short-term responses of a grant to school committees in a context of low authority and capacity, and find that overall, parents increased participation and responsibility, but these efforts did not improve quality. Enrollment at the lowest grades increased and school resources improved, but teacher absenteeism increased, and there was no impact on test scores. We examine heterogeneous impacts, and provide a model of school quality explaining the results and other results in the literature. The findings of this paper imply that strategies to improve quality by empowering parents should take levels of community authority and capacity into account: even when communities are willing to work to improve their schools, they may not be able to do so.
Beasley, Elizabeth, and Elise Huillery. “Willing but Unable: Short-Term Experimental Evidence on Parent Empowerment and School Quality.” Working Paper, January 2015.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS