Can Tablets and Tutors Substitute for Formal Schooling? Evidence from Out-of-School Children in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last registered on December 03, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Can Tablets and Tutors Substitute for Formal Schooling? Evidence from Out-of-School Children in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 Pandemic
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008623
Initial registration date
November 29, 2021
Last updated
December 03, 2021, 2:09 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Minnesota

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Asian Development Bank
PI Affiliation
Independent consultant
PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
BRAC University

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2019-12-15
End date
2022-09-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of an innovative educational technology (EdTech) program consisting of (a) tablets and (b) (distance) tutors on the educational outcomes (numeracy, literacy, and school enrolment) of out-of-school children in developing countries. To fulfill this purpose, we conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which one half of 890 out-of-school children in Bangladesh are randomly assigned to receive tablets containing pre-installed digital numeracy and literacy content as well as tutors who call them twice per week to go over the content. We measure longer-term (approximately 1.5 years) impacts from the intervention on children’s educational outcomes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Glewwe, Paul et al. 2021. "Can Tablets and Tutors Substitute for Formal Schooling? Evidence from Out-of-School Children in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 Pandemic." AEA RCT Registry. December 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8623-1.0
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The target population is children age 8-14 who are not enrolled in school. The objective is to increase their learning so that they can re-enroll in school. Treated children are provided with tablets containing pre-installed digital numeracy and literacy content. Approximately 100 trained tutors are randomly assigned to the treated children (with 4-5 treated children per tutor). Tutors call treated children twice per week to go over the content (from March 2020 to October 2021). Tutors follow a pre-defined syllabus adopted from the Bureau of Non-formal Education curriculum. Control group children are not provided anything by the implementing agency. Tutors are able to call treated students since each treated student was given a SIM card. The SIM card is linked to a Learning Management System. This enables the tutors to track the call history. Tutors further obtain access to a dashboard of their assigned students, so that they can easily track different indicators of learning progress (study hours, frequency of video content watching, participation in short and long quizzes, etc.).

Intervention Start Date
2020-03-15
Intervention End Date
2021-10-15

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Children's literacy skills. Children's numeracy skills.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Enrollment in formal schooling. Children’s non-cognitive skills (perceived competence, self-esteem, and grit).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In early March 2020, the 890 children were randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the control group. Enumerators visited these households again in March 2020 to distribute tablets with digital contents for those assigned to the treatment group. Tutoring for the treatment group children (who had just been given tablets) started in late March 2020.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
The child is the unit of randomization. The sample is clustered by villages/school catchment areas, but randomization is at the child level within each cluster.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
There are 236 clusters (villages/school catchment areas), 27 of which have two children and 209 of which have 4 children. Within each of these clusters, have of the children are randomly assigned to the treatment and the other half serve as controls.
Sample size: planned number of observations
890 out of school children.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
445 treated children and 445 control children
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The MDEs for the test scores are estimated to be 0.13 SD (standard deviations) of the distribution of test scores.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institutional Review Board of the BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health
IRB Approval Date
2021-08-01
IRB Approval Number
IRB-19 May'21-011
Analysis Plan

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