Ultrapoor graduation approach for education

The recent paper in Science magazine on the evaluation an anti poverty programme, famous called ultrapoor graduation has become very famous. The abstract says
Working in six countries with an international consortium, we investigate whether a multifaceted Graduation program can help the extreme poor establish sustainable self-employment activities and generate lasting improvements in their well-being. The program targets the poorest members in a village and provides a productive asset grant, training and support, life skills coaching, temporary cash consumption support, and typically access to savings accounts and health information or services. In each country, the program was adjusted to suit different contexts and cultures, while staying true to the same overall principles. This multi pronged approach is relatively expensive, but the theory of change is that the combination of these activities is necessary and sufficient to obtain a persistent impact. We do not test whether each of the program dimensions is individually necessary. Instead, we examine the “sufficiency” claim: A year after the conclusion of the program, and 3 years after the asset transfer, are program participants earning more income and achieving stable improvements in their well-being.
The important aspect of this programme is an integrated or holistic approach to address poverty. To bring a person out of poverty, one intervention focusing on a specific aspect isn't often enough. One needs to focus on all the constraints. I have earlier blogged on the piecemeal approach to solve a problem, and why it needn't result in results. Gulzar Natarajan also blogged here explaining the nuances of necessary vs sufficient conditions. 

This brings us to the question, can we do such graduation approach experiment in education too? Currently, the approach to education reform is very segmented, doing one thing at a time. However, from the perspective of child, all the necessary factors need to be place for him to be able to learn.

We can consider the following aspects for a graduation approach in education.

  1. Basic infrastructure, including toilets etc
  2. Parental education: This includes educating them about the returns to education. Evidence from Dominican Republic
  3. Teach at Right Level: Evidence from India, Kenya
  4. Training on understanding students difficulties, providing diagnostic feedback: Evidence from India
  5. Child health and nutrition: Evidence from India, deworming.
  6. Reducing barriers in access and other materials: Evidence from India
  7. Counseling to children, role models, aspirations: Evidence from Madagascar
  8. Income support to family so that they don't lose a part of their income by sending children to school.
  9. Motivational training to teachers, to rekindle the flame of energy.
  10. Community participation in school administration
There are other aspects like autonomy to schools to hire and fire teachers, changes in curriculum and so on, but these issues are to be dealt at a higher level and require change of rules and regulations. It may not be feasible to get them changed for the sake of experiment.

Can we pack the above ten together into a mega intervention? This, I believe would be a better way to approach the problem of low learning outcomes.

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