As our foundation grows, we discover what works and what doesn’t. We’ve made mistakes and we try to learn from them (whose idea was it to buy that fan for Los Pipitos, anyway?). Now that we’ve been around for a few years and have completed a few projects, we’ve also found that it’s a good idea to look back from time to time to check our progress and make sure we’re on the right track. We are constantly asking our agent in Nicaragua, Veronica, and the teachers at the different schools about how the various projects are going. Of course, we check on them ourselves once or twice a year. We’ve also found, though, that it’s a good idea to look at evaluations of similar programs that have been tried in the past by other organizations. This provides us with an opportunity to evaluate our own work.

Here are some examples of recent research into educational reform in developing countries (these programs are also being done by the Nicaragua Children’s Foundation):

1.    Educational reform in developing countries
In a 2004 paper entitled “Determinants of Primary Education Outcomes in Developing Countries” for the World Bank, Maurice Boissiere writes that research over the past few decades has determined that educational reform in the developing world has a much greater impact than it does in wealthier countries. He concludes that “it is quite feasible to make substantial progress in the outcomes of primary education in developing countries”.
Accessed November 2011 at:  http://www.worldbank.org/oed/education/documents/education_primary_determinants_paper.pdf


2.    Uniforms, textbooks and new classrooms
A study was done in Kenya in 2002 (Schools, Teachers, and Education Outcomes in Developing Countries) to evaluate a program instituted by an NGO in which uniforms, textbooks and new classrooms were provided to a selection of random schools. The study found that drop-out rates fell considerably and overall there was a 15% increase in years of schooling over a five year period. As well, many students transferred to these program schools (the Nicaragua Children’s Foundation had the same experience when we first started purchasing supplies for San Francisco de Asis!) The authors of the study conclude that the free uniforms were the greatest incentive for the parents of these students.
Accessed November 2011 at:
http://www.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/Interventions/EconEducationHandbook.pdf


3.     Hiring additional teachers
In Nicaragua, like the rest of the developing world, teachers are not provided with much incentive to do their jobs well and absenteeism is a big problem. When a teacher is absent, no substitute teacher is provided and the students simply hang around the school or return home. A study in India done in 2000(Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Random Experiments in India)evaluated a program that tried to improve the quality of education by hiring extra teachers. The study found that providing extra teachers meant that there were significantly fewer days when classrooms were shut. Accessed November 2011 at:

http://www.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/Interventions/Accepted%20QJE%20Remedying%20Ed%202006-10-09.pdf