The govt. of Nagaland introduced the Pocket School mobile based application in September 2021 among 474 government schools in Nagaland for digitizing student records in grades 1-5. The application allows schools to enter basic details of students, such as name, gender, date of birth, parents’ details and PCR number, within each class by a school representative, usually a teacher. An important and unique ability of this app is that it allows back-end verification of student details. PCR booklets assign a unique PCR number to each student enrolled in a government school and provides basic details of the child - child's name, date of birth, gender and parents’ names. The details in the admission register and PCR booklets available with the school can be cross verified with the digitized student records. In this way, the application aims to fix the missing step in the enrollment data collection process, that is, identifying genuine students studying in each school and grade necessary for facilitating textbook demand estimation calculations.
The PCR booklet works well for verification purposes as it is both unique and constant. The PCR number is supposed to remain the same even if the student transfers to another school within Nagaland. Therefore, these booklets serve as the gold standard for verifying the presence of a genuine student attending school.
The Pocket School app was developed by Quicksand, along with the World Bank for use by teachers. The application’s interface has been designed for easy access, usage and is readily available from the android official app store for download. This application works well on low cost android mobile devices that are widely used by teachers in Nagaland.
In this experiment, our goal is to understand the impact of non-monetary incentives in the form of rewards and punishments and their impacts on the uptake of the pocket school app, and the quantity and quality of digitization of student records.
For the experiment, we had 3 groups - one control and two treatment arms. In the control group, the Pocket school application was introduced and the schools were asked to digitize the student records and no incentives (neither rewards nor punishments) are attached to doing so.
In the two treatment arms, however, additional non-monetary incentives are tied to participation/effort levels of the schools. The intention is to understand how schools react to new technology when incentives are tied to their performance. In one treatment group, here on referred to as the rewards group, good/high performing schools will be rewarded. The best performing schools will be commended for their performance through both a letter and a personal call from high ranking officials at the Department of School Education (DSE), Nagaland, the premier government organization dealing with primary, secondary and higher education in the state. The letter will also be circulated amongst officials in Kohima and with the DEO, SDEO, AEO, JEO, EBRC team, and other officers. They will also be handed certificates of achievement and congratulatory posters, for display at schools, by officials at the smallest administrative office- Sub-divisional education office (SDEO). The teachers have close and frequent interactions with officers at the SDEO level.
Schools in the second treatment arm, here on referred to as the inquiry and action group, the non-monetary incentives work in the opposite fashion. Low performing schools will be contacted and asked to provide a reason for their poor performance. Therefore, these incentives take the form of inquiry calls and letters from the same set of officials as in the rewards group.
Our study seeks to answer which incentive program works well in urging teachers into action - performance based rewards (from high ranking officials in the government) or a threat of punishment (that takes the form of inquiry calls and letter of inquiry from high ranking officials in the government).