What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions that Don’t Focus on Girls

Authored by: David K. Evans and Fei Yuan

Categories: Human Rights, Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Human Development
Region: No Region
Year: 2019
Citation: Evans, David K., and Fei Yuan. What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions That Don’t Focus on Girls. Center for Global Development, 2019.

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Despite dramatic global gains in access to education, 130 million girls of school age remain out of school. Among those who do enter, too many fail to gain the essential skills to succeed after they complete their schooling. Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls’ latrines or girls’ scholarships. This approach makes sense if girl-targeted interventions are the most effective at overcoming the constraints specific to girls. But in general, non-targeted interventions – those that benefit both girls and boys – significantly improve girls’ education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms. In this review, we bring together evidence from 274 educational interventions from 179 studies in 54 low- and middle-income countries and identify their impacts on girls, regardless of whether or not they specifically target girls. We find that to improve both access and learning, girl-targeted interventions deliver no advantage over general interventions in terms of benefits for girls. At the same time, many more general interventions have been tested, providing a broader menu of options for policymakers to draw from. General interventions have similar impacts for girls as for boys. Many of the most effective interventions to improve access for girls are household-based (such as cash transfer programs), and many of the most effective interventions to improve learning for girls involve improving the pedagogy of teachers.