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Educational interventions and RCT Aya Mizutani
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Educational interventions and RCT

Since the early 2000s, the randomized controlled trial (RCT) has been a useful tool to find effective policies. The RCT allows practitioners to objectively evaluate the effect of interventions by comparing the difference between two nearly comparable groups, but one with intervention and one without intervention. In this article, I will introduce some educational interventions whose impacts were evaluated through RCTs.

The first one is a Mexican project named Progresa/Oportunidades. This project takes a comprehensive approach to intervene in various issues at once. Specifically, the project transfers money to low-income people because the receiver households send their children to school, health clinics, etc. Being carefully structured, the project was proved to be sufficient to improve school enrollment and the health conditions of the families and to reduce child labor (Shultz 2004; Attanasio, Meghir, Santiago 2011).

Another project was done in Kenya. This project attempts to verify the theorized effect of deworming on health and educational potentials. The project offered deworming on a school basis and evaluated its impact. The result shows that the students were absent by 1/4 less in schools where the deworming program was provided. The effect was also seen in surrounding schools where no deworming program was done (Miguel and Kremer 2004).

There was also a very interesting and cost-effective project in Madagascar. This project attempts to see how information help students study hard. The samples were grouped into three, one of which received statistical information on the return to education and the second of which met a role model who shared his/her success story. The third group was a treatment group. The result shows that the first group improves attendance as well as test score (Nguyen 2013).

A very recent study in Botswana evaluates how remote assistance can help children during the COVID-19 endemic. The project provided two different interventions: through phone calls, and the other is through SMS text messages. The result shows both interventions improve their numeracy skills. Through the project, they find increased parental engagement in their child’s education.

There are many more projects that present an objective evaluation of projects through RCTs. It is now becoming a significant stream to confirm the effectiveness of interventions and modify or find other solutions if such interventions are ineffective.


Schultz TP. School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program, Journal of Development Economics, 2004, vol.74 (pg. 199-250)
Attanasio, Orazio, Costas Meghir, and Ana Santiago. 2011. “Education Choices in Mexico: Using a Structural Model and a Randomized Experiment to Evaluate PROGRESA.” The Review of Economic Studies. 79(1): 37-66.
Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. “Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities,” Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, January.
Miguel, Edward, and Michael Kremer. 2004. “Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities.” Econometrica 72 (1): 159-217.
Nguyen, T. (2013). Information, Role Models and Perceived Returns to Education Experimental Evidence from Madagascar.
Noam Angrist, Peter Bergman, Caton Brewster, and Moitshepi Matsheng (August 2020). Stemming Learning Loss During the Pandemic: A Rapid Randomized Trial of a Low-Tech Intervention in Botswana. Centre of the African Economics