Building a Sustainable System of Agricultural Extension around Schools in Liberia
Last registered on June 18, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Building a Sustainable System of Agricultural Extension around Schools in Liberia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006671
Initial registration date
January 31, 2021
Last updated
June 18, 2021 1:36 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Northwestern University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2021-01-01
End date
2023-03-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The quality of rural education in developing countries is hampered by poorly trained teachers, passive learning, curricula that are ill-matched to rural needs, and disengaged parents. Piecemeal reforms tackling these problems often fail to create sustainable improvements among teachers, students, parents, and schools. Simultaneously tackling the needs to empower rural youth, to create active learning modules, and to engage parents’ interest in schools, we implement a model of school-based agricultural education (SBAE) that is long-established and studied in America. We provide the first randomized evaluation of the SBAE approach in developing countries. We cluster-randomize the offer of a package of interventions based on the model to 197 primary and junior high schools in Liberia. Building upon the country’s need in diffusing low-cost agricultural innovations, the package of interventions includes (1) training and regularly monitoring agriculture and science teachers on the use of a hands-on, learning-by-doing pedagogy; (2) setting up school gardens as active laboratories, which engage students on problem-based learning and to demonstrate useful agricultural innovations to their communities; (3) encouraging students to develop home entrepreneurship projects under the supervision of their teachers, which empower rural youth with practical skills and allow them to practice project-based inquiry; (4) fostering mentorship of and peer interaction among students via extra-curricular club activities. We evaluate school-level changes in (i) pedagogy and behavior among teachers, (ii) academic performance, skills, and attitudes towards education among students, (iii) attendance and grade completion rates; (iv) school enrollment, and (v) school management outcomes after two school years.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Lee, Jimmy and Christopher Udry. 2021. "Building a Sustainable System of Agricultural Extension around Schools in Liberia." AEA RCT Registry. June 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6671-1.1.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We cluster-randomize the offer of a package of interventions based on the model to 197 primary and junior high schools in Liberia. Building upon the country’s need in diffusing low-cost agricultural innovations, the package of interventions includes (1) training and regularly monitoring agriculture and science teachers on the use of a hands-on, learning-by-doing pedagogy; (2) setting up school gardens as active laboratories, which engage students on problem-based learning and to demonstrate useful agricultural innovations to their communities; (3) encouraging students to develop home entrepreneurship projects under the supervision of their teachers, which empower rural youth with practical skills and allow them to practice project-based inquiry; (4) fostering mentorship of and peer interaction among students via extra-curricular club activities
Intervention Start Date
2021-01-01
Intervention End Date
2022-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Student level:
(1) Standardized test scores on mathematics and science;
(2) Non-cognitive skills (e.g. time preference, individual goal-setting and perseverance, confidence to perform group tasks, etc.)
(3) Attitudes towards learning (e.g. time spent studying each week)
(4) Attendance
(5) Grade completion

Teacher level:
(1) Use of active instructional techniques (measured using classroom observations and student reports)
(2) Proportion of class time in active instruction
(3) Attendance

School level:
(1) Enrollment of students
(2) An index of school management
(3) Strength of Parent-Teacher Association and School Management Committee

Households:
(1) Knowledge of promoted agricultural practices
(2) Adoption of promoted agricultural practices
(3) Agricultural production (e.g. yields and profits)
(4) Consumption (e.g. food and non-food consumption)

Farmer level:
(1) Knowledge of promoted agricultural practices
(2) Adoption of promoted agricultural practices
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Recruitment of schools was done during November 2019 to January 2020. To reduce overlap of catchment areas between treated and control schools, we adopted a cluster randomization procedure to recruit 100 new schools. Before randomization, we identified 337 schools operating in 13 regions (which typically comprise of 2 districts within a county) that are logistically feasible. We grouped 337 schools into 206 clusters by requiring schools across clusters to be at least 2km apart. Clusters were grouped into pairs based on enrollment levels. We then randomized the 206 clusters into treatment and control, which are then approached in three waves.

Using the list of paired clusters, our field team identifies 100 treatment schools in 77 clusters and 97 control schools in 77 clusters that meet the criteria of the 4-H Liberia program (e.g. a functional PTA, a permanent and paid science teacher, a reliable water source and land for school gardens). All schools accept the offer upon being approached by the 4-H field team.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in the office by a computer, using the program Stata.
Randomization Unit
Clusters of rural schools that are less than 2 kilometers apart
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
197 schools in 154 clusters.
Sample size: planned number of observations
197 schools. 10 students per school, thus a total of 1970 students. 1 household per student, thus a total of 1970 households. 3 teachers per school, thus a total of 591 teachers. 297 communities (100 communities corresponding to the residences of PTA members invited to training sessions; 100 communities that are within 2km of treated schools; 97 communities that are within 2km of control schools) 6 randomly selected farmers per community; thus a total of 1782 farmers.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 treated schools in 77 clusters.
97 control schools in 77 clusters.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Liberia - Atlantic Center for Research & Evaluation IRB (UL-PIRE IRB))
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-11
IRB Approval Number
18-11-185
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) IRB
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-03
IRB Approval Number
15307
IRB Name
Northwestern University IRB
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-20
IRB Approval Number
STU00211435