Press Release

MCC Education Threshold Program Yields Successful Results from Two-Year Study of Girls' Schools in Burkina Faso

For Immediate Release

May 8, 2009

Washington, D.C. As part of its $12.9 million threshold program in Burkina Faso, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) partnered with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR), the University of Ouagadougou and Columbia University to conduct a two-year evaluation of results from 132 MCC-funded village rural schools for primary-age girls. Today, MCC joined the Academy for Education Development and The Society for International Development-Washington D.C. Chapter to discuss the successful results of the evaluation.

Education is a key component to fighting global poverty. The lack of access to education, especially for girls, is often a major constraint to economic growth, said Rodney Bent, MCC Acting Chief Executive Officer. The successful evaluation results announced today demonstrate MCCs priority that U.S. dollars are spent efficiently, yield significant results and deliver aid to the people who need it the most. MCC is working to make aid count where it is most needed.

The Burkinab Response to Improve Girls Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) school program was part of an MCC Threshold Program granted to Burkina Faso in July 2005. The program specifically focused on increasing enrollment of primary-age girls and was implemented in 132 rural villages throughout 10 provinces of the country where girls enrollment rates were the lowest. MCC, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Plan International, Catholic Relief Services, and two Burkinab NGOsTin Tua and the Forum for African Women Educationalists—built primary schools, housing for teachers, and separate latrines for boys and girls throughout the country from October 2005 to April 2008 in an effort to increase school enrollment and completion rates.

Early in the project, MCC hired MPR to conduct an independent evaluation of the BRIGHT school program to quantify its effect on educational outcomes. This is MCCs first independent evaluation; an effort made to measure the agencys programs for results and to learn which development methods are most effective. MPR concluded the following results were achieved:

  • Increase in school enrollment: the BRIGHT school program improved overall school enrollment by about 16 to 20 percentage points, from 35 to 55 percent (household-reported outcome) or from 31 to 47 percent (school-based outcome).
  • Better test scores: the BRIGHT school program had a positive influence on math and French test scores. The evaluation results indicate that for a student who started at the 50th percentile of the sample, attending a BRIGHT school is likely to increase his or her test score to approximately the 80th percentile.

Beneficial for boys and girls: while enrollment for both boys and girls improved 16 to 20 percentage points as a result of the BRIGHT program, the evaluation showed a slightly higher improvement, by five percentage points, in school enrollment for girls than boys.

In July 2008, MCC signed a $480.9 million compact with the government of Burkina Faso. Due to the success of the BRIGHT program, the government of Burkina Faso decided to extend the program and create BRIGHT 2 for $28.83million, which builds on the success of the threshold program and provides funds for building additional classrooms. The BRIGHT 2 program will allow children in the same 132 villages to complete primary school. The initiative provides a good opportunity to assess the long-term effects of strengthening and expanding education in Burkina Faso as a vital factor for sustainable poverty reduction and economic growth.

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Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States Government agency designed to fight poverty in developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth. For more information about MCC, visit