Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India

37 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2008 Last revised: 10 Aug 2010

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Rukmini Banerji

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Rachel Glennerster

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Stuti Khemani

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

Participation of beneficiaries in the monitoring of public services is increasingly seen as a key to improving their efficiency. In India, the current government flagship program on universal primary education organizes both locally elected leaders and parents of children enrolled in public schools into committees and gives these groups powers over resource allocation, and monitoring and management of school performance. However, in a baseline survey we found that people were not aware of the existence of these committees and their potential for improving education. This paper evaluates three different interventions to encourage beneficiaries' participation through these committees: providing information, training community members in a new testing tool, and training and organizing volunteers to hold remedial reading camps for illiterate children. We find that these interventions had no impact on community involvement in public schools, and no impact on teacher effort or learning outcomes in those schools. However, we do find that the intervention that trained volunteers to teach children to read had a large impact on activity outside public schools -- local youths volunteered to be trained to teach, and children who attended these camps substantially improved their reading skills. These results suggest that citizens face substantial constraints in participating to improve the public education system, even when they care about education and are willing to do something to improve it.

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Banerji, Rukmini and Duflo, Esther and Glennerster, Rachel and Khemani, Stuti, Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14311. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1264573

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8855 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Rukmini Banerji

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Esther Duflo (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Rachel Glennerster

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Stuti Khemani

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/skhemani

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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