The Effect of Community-Based Schools on Girls’ and Boys’ Educational Outcomes: Evidence from Remote Afghan Villages

-A Lecture by Dr. Dana Burde-

This study uses a randomized trial to examine how community-based schools affect children’s educational outcomes in rural Afghanistan. Taking advantage of an unusual opportunity to implement a rigorous research design in an early reconstruction context, Professors Dana Burde and Leigh Linden formed a partnership with the US-based nongovernmental organization CRS to implement random assignment of schools and program interventions to eligible villages (where no government schools existed). The researchers compared “treatment” villages to “control” villages after one year of intervention. Without the intervention, girls’ enrollment rate in school is fifteen percent lower than boys’ (27 percent rather than 42 percent) and their scores on math and language tests are also significantly lower. Based on analysis conducted thus far, the introduction of the community-based schools has had a significant impact on children’s participation levels and significantly reduces the existing educational disparities between boys and girls. Thus, although locating schools within the village improved educational outcomes for all children, providing more equitable access to education had a much larger effect on girls’ performance and reduced the existing disparity in educational achievement along gender lines.

Professor Burde will present the research design, methods, and the key quantitative findings in this study that relate to girls’ and boys’ enrollment and learning in math and Dari. She will discuss qualitative findings related to families’ educational strategies for their children. She will also discuss policy implications. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Dr. Burde received her PhD from Columbia University in Comparative Education and Political Science. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of International Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, specializing in education in countries affected by conflict; she has worked in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central and South America, West Africa, and started the current study in Afghanistan in 2005.

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