Burkina Faso’s Threshold Program Evaluation
The Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) program was part of a Threshold Country Program financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). BRIGHT sought to increase girls’ primary school enrollment and completion rates in Burkina Faso by constructing 132 “girl-friendly” schools in the 10 provinces with the lowest rates of girls’ primary school enrollment. Each new school has three classrooms, separate latrines for boys and girls and housing for three teachers.
The program also provided take-home rations for girls, daily meals for all students, textbooks, and school supplies. To complement the classroom interventions, BRIGHT included an adult literacy and mentoring program, training for local partners, and a public awareness campaign.
In all, 293 villages applied for the new schools. The Burkina Faso Ministry of Education scored each village based on pre-set criteria to identify communities who could benefit most from the schools and then selected the 132 villages with the greatest need.
The BRIGHT program, under the direction of the United States Agency for International Development, was implemented by a collaboration of two international non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—Plan International and Catholic Relief Services, and two Burkinabé NGOs—Tin Tua, and the Forum for African Women Educationalists. School construction began around October 2006, and most schools were completed by April 2007.
Early in the project, MCC hired Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) to conduct an independent evaluation of the BRIGHT program and quantify its impact on educational outcomes.
The evaluators sought to answer three key questions:
- What was the impact of the program on school enrollment?
- What was the impact of the program on test scores?
- Were the impacts different for girls than for boys?
To answer these questions, they compared the 132 communities served by BRIGHT (the “participant group”) to the 161 communities not selected for the program (the “comparison group”). Household and school-level data were collected by a team from the University of Ouagadougou from both groups using two separate questionnaires designed by the MPR team. One focused on school-aged children and was administered at the household level. The other focused on school attributes and attendance and was administered to officials at each local school. A pilot survey was completed in the spring of 2007 and full data collection was completed by mid-2008. The evaluators analyzed the data using a statistical technique called regression discontinuity to determine the impact of the program.