The Effects of “Girl-Friendly” Schools
Evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso
This paper examines the effects of high quality, "girl-friendly" schools by assessing the effects of the Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls' Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) school construction program, which placed relatively well-resourced schools with a number of amenities directed at encouraging the enrollment of girls in 132 rural villages in Burkina Faso. Amenities included inputs such as separate latrines for boys and girls, canteens, take-home rations and textbooks, and "soft" components such as a mobilization campaign, literacy training, and capacity building among local partners.The selection process used to allocate the BRIGHT schools to villages allows us to use a regression discontinuity design to assess the causal effect of the BRIGHT schools on child outcomes...The survey was conducted in spring 2008. Of the original 293 applicant villages, 287 villages were included in the data set used for the analysis. For each village, a census was conducted of all households with children between the ages of 5 and 12. From this list, 30 households were randomly sampled, with selection stratified by whether or not the family has access to a beast of burden. This yielded a total sample of 8,432 households and 17,970 children.The survey comprised three components.
- First, each household completed a household questionnaire. This included socio-demographic questions about the household. It also included an enumeration of all children between the ages of 5 and 12 living in the household and questions about their educational status and history.
- Second, each child in the household was asked to complete a short test in math and French. The individual questions were taken from the official government textbook and focused on competencies from grade 1.
- Third, we conducted a school survey of local schools and, during the visit, checked the attendance of children the household had identified as being enrolled in school.
After 2.5 years, the program increased enrollment by 19 percentage points and increased test scores by 0.41 standard deviations. For those caused to attend school, scores increased by 2.2 standard deviations. Girls' enrollment increased by 5 percentage points more than boys' enrollment, but they experienced the same increase in test scores as boys. The unique characteristics of the schools are responsible for increasing enrollment by 13 percentage points and test scores by 0.35 standard deviations. They account for the entire difference in the treatment effects by gender. (Abstract).