Author: Dana Burde, Joel Middleton, and Cyrus Samii
Year: 2017
Agency: USAID
Full Citation: Dana Burde, Joel Middleton, and Cyrus Samii. (2017). The Assessment of Learning Outcomes and Social Effects in Community-Based Education in Afghanistan: A randomized field experiment in Afghanistan (Baseline report). Retrieved from http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PBAAE150.pdf
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Overview: The Assessment of Learning Outcomes and Social Effects (ALSE) is a multi-year (2014-2017) study of community-based education (CBE) in Afghanistan, funded by USAID. ALSE has two research components. The first focuses on maximizing learning and educational access via CBE and evaluates various CBE approaches, including variations in teacher recruitment and community engagement. The second focuses on sustaining the gains made in learning and access as an integral component of the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) strategy to expand access to education.
Methodology: This report presents the results of the baseline survey that was undertaken in 129 of the 180 villages at the start of the first year of the program in which CBE classes were provided. It is important to note that the baseline survey was carried out before the program took effect, thus these findings provide descriptive correlations and associations rather than impact assessments.
Findings:
  • Formal school attendance rates for children between 6 and 11 years of age (the study’s target range) were 59.8% for boys and 45.3% for girls.
  • As for religious schools, we had two notable findings regarding attendance at madrassas and mosques schools. First, a negligible number of children attend madrassas in four of the six provinces studied, and only a small number do so in the other two. Moreover, it appears that the
majority of those who do attend madrassas are adolescent boys and that religious education tends to complement their formal education, as a large share attend both types of school. For girls we see that mosque and formal schools operate more as substitutes, with girls attending either one or the other. This is likely because of the distance they must walk to get to government schools.
  • The primary reason households gave for their children not attending school was that the schools were too far from home; this applied to about 40% of the boys and nearly 60% of the girls who were not attending. Insecurity and concern for the children’s safety was another reason reported, although about half as often as distance, and not in a way that distinguished it from other considerations such as cost, the need for the children to contribute to the household income, or the perception that the children were not old enough. This may reflect the relative security of our study communities.
  • In regression analyses, the most robust positive predictors of both boys’ and girls’ attendance at formal schools is whether the household head attended a formal school. This relationship holds up even after accounting for income and other socioeconomic factors.
  • Despite the significant social and economic diversity in our sample households and the variation in school attendance, they displayed an almost universally high demand for education.
  • Many of the demographic variables that have a positive association with school attendance also have a significant positive association with assessments of learning performance. Demographic predictors of higher scores include the household head having attended a formal school, being literate, or having a military occupation, along with indicators of material wellbeing, such as the ability to purchase enough food or having access to communication technologies.
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