Increasing Access by Waiving Tuition
Evidence from Haiti
Despite impressive gains in increasing access to school over the last twenty years, an estimated 57 million children worldwide do not go to school. Abolishing school fees has increased enrollment rates in several countries where enrollments were low and school fees were high. However, such policies may be less effective, or even have negative consequences, when supply-side responses are weak. This paper evaluates the school-level impacts of a tuition waiver program in Haiti, which provided public financing to non-public schools conditional on these schools not charging tuition.
In the school year 2008-2009, due to a limited amount of program financing, the Ministry of Education and the World Bank agreed that only approximately 100 schools from each of the 5 newly participating departments in the country would be selected, among the 1,034 qualifying schools that applied. A total of 547 schools were selected to participate: 110 in Centre, 115 in Grand-Anse, 112 in Nord-Est, 111 in Nord-Ouest, and 99 in Nord. The randomization was conducted so that at least one school from each commune of each of the departments was represented in the sample, in order to favor rural areas and maximize the geographical distribution of the program.
The paper concludes that a school's participation in the program results in having more students enrolled, more staff, and slightly higher student-teacher ratios. The program also reduces grade repetition and the share of students who are over-age. While the increase in students at participating schools does not directly equate to a reduction in the number of children out of school, it does demonstrate strong demand from families for the program, and a correspondingly strong supply response from the non-public sector.