Press Release – Do the extra hours of tuition pay off? An Evaluation of the CDIP Education Support Programme

Extra hours of tuition could reduce the drop-out rate in Bangladesh’s primary schools.

The research, presented by Atonu Rabbani (University of Dhaka) at the International Growth Centre’s South Asia Growth Conference 2013 argues that providing Bangladeshi pupils with extra hours of tuition could significantly lower the primary school drop-out rates.

Using a difference-in-difference estimation method, the researchers estimate the impact of an extra tuition program run by the Centre for Development Innovation and Practices (CDIP) on student performance and drop-out rates. The researchers find that the program is successful in reducing drop-out, but not in increasing student performance.

As a matter of fact, extra tuition sessions offered during grades 1 and 2 appeared to retain students through grade five, with 59% lower dropout rate among those students having taken part in the program. However, participating students did not seem achieve significantly higher test scores. While this might be due to the program’s ineffectiveness at improving student performance, the lack of findings might also rather be due to measurement errors.

Background

In Bangladesh, sizeable efforts have been made to improve the educational attainment of pupils. Particular attention has been paid to primary education, with the country having established a compulsory education program as early as 1993. Unfortunately, inequity has been a major challenge towards effective access, and the quality of primary school education remains low. As a matter of fact, many students reach the end of their primary school education without demonstrating basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Many initiatives have been rolled out to find a remedy to this problem. From providing pupils with free food and textbooks to hiring more teachers, several attempts have been made to improve educational attainments. The particular program evaluated in this research, the Education Support Program (ESP), aimed to assist students by providing supplementary after-school tuition to grade 1 and 2 students belonging to poor and illiterate households.

Key findings

  • After-hour tuition sessions offered during grades 1 and 2 were seemingly successful in retaining students through grade 5. The drop-out rate was 59% lower in the treatment group than in the control group.
  • Despite providing students with up to 10 extra hours of tuition every week, the ESP did not exhibit any significant impact on test scores.
  • There were many reasons why those results could be biased towards the null, including measurement errors and the lack of comparability of treatment and control groups.
  • The traditional evaluation process appears to encourage students to put emphasis more on memorization and to pay less attention on developing their analytical ability.

Policy implications

To attain a higher growth trajectory, one of the key things Bangladesh will need to do is invest heavily inhuman capital, and more specifically address the issue of primary education quality. Since primary schools in Bangladesh face serious resource constraints, extra tuition programs ran by NGOs or other types of organisations could lower the drop-out rates further among the primary school students of the country. However, in order for the country to truly improve its human capital stock, more will need to be done to ensure that children actually gain the basic numeracy and literacy skills while at school. To do so, the government will need to develop an evaluation process that encourages students to develop their analytical skills and thereby help the nation reap the full benefits of education.

Research aim

This research aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a program that provides supplementary tuition (about 10 hours per week) to primary school students in different districts of Bangladesh through a program called Education Support Program (ESP) run by the Centre for Development Innovation and Practices (CDIP).

Research method

The authors use a random sample of the students who were in grade 2 in 2008 and for whom the 2007 grades were available. Out of this population, they randomly selected a group of students who attended the extra tuition program (the treatment group), and one who didn’t (the control group). They then used a difference-in-difference method to estimate the effects of the ESP on (1) performance and (2) dropout rates.

Researchers

Atonu Rabbani is an Assistant Professor of Economics from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ummul Ruthbah is an Assistant Professor of Economics from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Salim Hossain is a Lecturer at the University of Dhaka, department of Psychology.

Golam Sarwar works for the Economic Research Group (ERG) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

This statement was issued at the South Asia Growth Conference 2013, held in New Delhi, India.