Case Study: Brightening the Future of Girls’ Education in Burkina Faso

The Bukinabé Response to Improve Girl’s Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) Education Initiative
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. The successful evaluation results announced today demonstrate MCC’s 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.
- Rodney Bent, Millennium Challenge Corporation Acting Chief Executive Officer
Project Facts
  • The BRIGHT program was implemented in the 10 provinces in which girls’ enrollment rates were the lowest in Burkina Faso from 2005-2008.
  • The program had positive impacts on the school enrollment rates and test scores of both girls and boys.
  • As a result of the positive impacts, BRIGHT II was funded, extending the program through grade 6 and a similar program was funded in Niger.
  • An analysis of the BRIGHT program was published in the July 2013 issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.
  • The Mathematica research team has presented the BRIGHT findings at numerous international conferences, including AEA, APPAM, CIES, SREE, and SRCD.

Notes on Data Collection. Mathematica selected a regression discontinuity evaluation design; households within the 293 villages that applied for a BRIGHT school comprised the sample frame. There were 132 “participant” villages (received a BRIGHT school) and 161 “comparison” villages (did not receive a BRIGHT school). Household-level data was collected from 30 randomly selected households with school-age girls (5 to 12 years old) in each village. School-level data was collected from three schools within 10 kilometers of the village center that village children were enrolled in. Data was collected using paper surveys. The interviewers were fluent in French and local languages; they were organized into teams by linguistic group. The household survey achieved a response rate of 97.3 percent with a total of 8,491 households completing the household survey. The school survey achieved a response rate of 99.2 percent with a total of 367 schools completing the school survey.

The Issue

Primary school enrollment rates in Burkina Faso are some of the lowest in the world, with an enormous disparity between rural and urban areas in terms of primary school enrollment and completion rates. Primary school enrollment and completion rates of girls are especially low. To address this issue, MCC launched the BRIGHT program through the Burkina Faso Threshold Program in 2005, funding the construction of primary schools in 132 rural villages and implementing a set of complementary interventions.

The Approach

Mathematica researchers, along with a data collection team from the University of Ouagadougou, completed a rigorous evaluation of the BRIGHT program. The team visited rural villages across the country, completing thousands of household questionnaires and hundreds of school questionnaires to understand the impacts of the BRIGHT program. We used a regression discontinuity design to assess how children in BRIGHT villages fared relative to how they would have fared had the BRIGHT program not been implemented.   

The Impacts

Mathematica’s evaluation and dissemination of the positive impacts the BRIGHT program resulted in BRIGHT II, an augmentation that included three additional classrooms for grades 4-6 and a continuation of the complementary interventions in the 132 participant villages. The evaluation found large, statistically significant, positive effects on test scores for both boys and girls in BRIGHT villages. It also found that BRIGHT had statistically significant, positive impacts on primary school enrollment for both boys and girls; the impact on girls was 5 percentage points higher than the impacts for boys. 

  • There was suggestive evidence indicating that part of the impact came from having a school where there previously was none; the other part came from having a school with better infrastructure and add-on components.
  • According to MCC, as a result of the BRIGHT program, primary school completion rates for girls in BRIGHT villages increased from 21 percent in 2008 to more than 57 percent in 2012; completion rates for boys in BRIGHT villages increased from 28.4 percent to more than 53 percent during the same four year period.

Source: Millennium Challenge Corporation. “From All Angles: BRIGHT Schools Improve Girls’ Education.”

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About the Project

Primary school enrollment rates in Burkina Faso, especially for girls, remain some of the lowest in the world. The BRIGHT program was designed to improve the educational outcomes of children in Burkina Faso, particularly of girls. It was implemented in 132 rural villages throughout the 10 provinces of the country in which girls’ enrollment rates were lowest and consisted of constructing primary schools housing grades 1-3 and implementing some complementary interventions.

The $12.9 million grant that funded the BRIGHT program was financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through a two-year Threshold Country Program beginning in 2005. It was implemented by a consortium of NGOs – Plan International, Catholic Relief Services, Tin Tua, and the Forum for African Women Educationalists – under the supervision of USAID. In the 132 treatment villages, the BRIGHT program constructed primary schools for grades 1-3, housing for three teachers, and separate latrines for boys and girls. Schools were built near a water source and a water pump was installed nearby. Complementary interventions included daily meals for students, take home rations to girls with a 90% attendance rate, school textbooks, a mobilization campaign, literacy training and mentoring, and local capacity building.

Mathematica conducted a rigorous impact evaluation of the BRIGHT program to assess the impact of the program on primary school enrollment, test scores, and whether the impacts were different for girls than for boys. The evaluation found that the BRIGHT program had a positive impact on school enrollment for both boys and girls, and the impact on girls’ enrollment was about five percentage points higher than the impact on boys. The BRIGHT program also had positive impacts on math and French test scores for both boys and girls.