Mother literacy and child learning

The impact of mother literacy and participation program on child learning

Speakers: Marc Shotland, J-PAL and Faiyaz Ahmed, Pratham
Date: June 21, 2013; 3.30-5 pm

Low quality education is often considered the result of a low quality education system, characterised by poor school infrastructure, limited materials, inappropriate pedagogy, and low-quality teachers. However, low learning levels can also be attributed to the home environment: low-income households have fewer educational materials at home, parents spend less time on educational activities with their children, are less productive with the time they spend, have lower expectations, are less empowered, and allocate fewer resources to education for a given level of wealth.

The presenters reported the results of a randomized evaluation of three programmes designed to improve the home learning environment among rural households in India. Households were assigned into one of four groups that received either: (i) adult literacy classes for mothers, (ii) training for mothers on how to enhance their children’s learning at home, (iii) a combination of the first two interventions, or (iv) nothing, which served as the control group.

The study finds that mothers in the first three groups perform 0.11, 0.06, and 0.15 standard deviations better (respectively) on a combined language and math test when compared to the control group. The three programmes had statistically significant effects of 0.04, 0.05, and 0.07 standard deviations on children's math scores (respectively), but only the combined intervention had significant effects on language scores. The findings also indicate that the interventions increased women's empowerment, mother participation in child learning, and the presence of education assets in the home.

Seminar presentation (1.6 MB)

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