Improving Educational Outcomes through parental involvement: Evidence from Randomized Experiment in Bangladesh

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Most developing countries are committed to providing universal primary education by 2015, in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals . However, these countries struggle to provide their populations with universal primary education, mostly due to lack of the required financial resources. While Bangladesh has achieved rapid progress in primary school enrolment, the low completion rate, high dropout rate and unauthorised teacher absence from the classroom are serious deficiencies that continue to inhibit the quality of educational outcomes.

This project will examine the effectiveness of a low-cost strategy that affects behaviour of both providers (teachers) and recipients (pupils) of education by holding regular meetings to inform parents about their children’s educational progress in primary school. The objectives of the study are to answer the following questions:

  1. Does increased parental monitoring about their children’s performance in the classroom lead to improved test scores, reduce students drop-out and teachers’ absenteeism from school?
  2. Can these be achieved without imposing substantial costs on the government?

Headteachers of primary schools will invite parents of pupils to meet once a month in the school compound at a particular date to inform them about their children’s progress and achievement in the classroom. Teachers in treatment schools will show a report card to parents, and explain how the child performed in regular class tests or semester exams, and advise parents about measures that need to be taken at home to improve their performance.

To understand the effectiveness of such a programme, it is necessary to conduct a randomized field experiment where some randomly selected schools will implement the intervention and others will not do anything. The researchers will implement the project in 80 primary schools in two southern districts (Khulna and Satkhira) of Bangladesh. The intervention will be conducted among grades 3-5 students in 40 out of 80 randomly chosen primary schools. The corresponding students from the remaining 40 primary schools will be in a control group who receive no treatment.

We expect that face-to-face meetings between teachers and parents would simultaneously address the absenteeism of both students and teachers, and will lead to improvement in test scores and reduction in drop-outs. Cost-effectiveness is an important aspect to be considered when scaling up any programme. This is more crucial in the context of developing countries where governments abandon many important programmes due to budgetary constraints. Having parent-teacher meetings is a policy choice that can be put into practice by schools at virtually no cost.

The researchers will examine whether the programme can lead to improved test scores, pupil retention, and teachers’ absenteeism from school. They will conduct a baseline study and follow up with standardised student tests in both treatment and control groups. They will then also conduct a teacher survey and a household survey to understand the differences in programme effects across schools and parental characteristics.

Policy Implications:

Education is a crucial determinant of economic development and growth. Identifying the effect of information availability on parental consciousness about education of their children will allow promoting government policies on public awareness and information provision.