Panel Paper: Educational Equality for Indian Girls: Impacts of a Private School Voucher Experiment in Delhi

Monday, June 13, 2016 : 11:50 AM
Clement House, 5th Floor, Room 02 (London School of Economics)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Patrick Wolf, University of Arkansas and Pauline Dixon, Department of International Development & Education, Newcastle University
India struggles with a variety of social challenges.  Prominent among them are variation in the effectiveness of government-run schools and discrimination against girls in educational access and opportunity.  Some advocates of education and development argue that private school vouchers could address both challenges simultaneously by providing girls in particular with greater access to quality schools.  Although low-cost private schooling in general and private school vouchers in particular are becoming more common in the developing world, few rigorous studies have examined the impacts of private school access on students in urban slums or explored whether or not such programs shrink educational gender gaps.  

The ENABLE school voucher program targets underprivileged children aged 5-7 years in Shahdara, East Delhi. To date, over 800 children have been provided with a voucher to attend a low-cost private school for five years. Experimental estimates of the impact of a voucher offer on student achievement after two years reveal positive and statistically significant impacts in English but no significant differences between the treatment and control groups in Hindi or mathematics. The gain in English achievement of .25 of a standard deviation equates to approximately 4.5 months of additional learning. Subgroup analyses reveal statistically significant impacts for girls across all three subjects tested - English, mathematics, and Hindi, equating to 8, 3, and 4 additional months of learning in those respective subjects. Compared with other two-year experimental impacts from prominent educational interventions, the magnitude of the positive ENABLE program impact is particularly large and, because the benefits are larger for girls, the program contributes significantly to an increase in educational equality between participating girls and boys.