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Empowering Parents to Improve Education: Evidence from Rural Mexico

By: Paul Gertler, Harry Patrinos, Marta Rubio-Codina

This report forms a part of the World Bank’s Impact Evaluation series.

Starting in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the decentralization of administrative responsibilities and levels of authority to the school level is a form of educational reform that has been gaining increasing support in developing countries.  School-based management (SBM) programs – also known as school autonomy reform programs or school improvement programs – are currently being implemented in a number of countries, including Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Paraguay and Mexico. They consist in shifting responsibility and decision-making to school actors: principals, teachers, parents, sometimes even students, and possibly other school community members (school councils).

Analogically, empowerment of the local agents might entail the same deficiencies in service delivery as those associated with the decentralization of public services: degradation in service provision. Resources might be misallocated given the increased scope for capture of resources by the local agents, or because they lack the technical abilities to provide the service or fail to internalize the positive externalities derived from its provision (Galiani et al 2005). It is thus crucial for the government to design incentive systems that will minimize the potential for conflicting interests and opportunistic behavior once decentralization is in place.

Mexico’s compensatory education program provides extra resources to primary schools that enroll disadvantaged students in highly disadvantaged rural communities. One of the most important components of the program is the school-based management intervention known as AGEs (Apoyo a la Gestión Escolar or School Management Support). The impact of the AGEs is assessed on intermediate school quality indicators (failure, repetition and dropout), controlling for the presence of other programs, including the conditional cash transfer program Oportunidades. Results prove that school-based management is an effective measure for improving outcomes, based on an over time difference-in-difference evaluation. Complementary qualitative evidence corroborates the veracity of such findings.

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Uploaded on: Dec 02, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2015
Year Published: 2012
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