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Submitted by Shanta on

Mehdi: Thanks for the suggestion. While I like the idea of running a controlled experiment to overcome the opposition of unions, I think the experiment should permit a true comparison. We can't give vouchers just for private schools. The point about vouchers is that students have a choice among schools, be they public or private, and the fact that schools receive the money only if students enroll there creates an incentive for the schools to improve the quality of service delivery. So we can have one experiment where we introduce vouchers in some (randomly chosen) districts and in others, continue to have government spending go directly to the school. And then compare student performance between the two sets of districts (this is similar to experiments done in Bogota,Colombia, Chile, Bangladesh, etc.) A second possibility is to put in place a control system for absenteeism (again, randomly, possibly combined with a bonus for teachers for being present, and compare the results with areas where this system was not in place. This is similar to the experiments with cameras in Rajasthan, or the time-stamp machines, or even contract teachers. Again, a pairwise comparison between the control and treatment groups could yield insights here. But, as I mentioned in the blog post, both the time-stamp machines and contract teachers experiments were undermined by politics. So we need to find experiments that we can implement successfully, and show the results of these to the unions. Shanta