12:00—1:30 PM
Center for Global Development
2055 L St NW
- Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20036

Call Me Educated: Mobile Phone Monitoring of Adult Education in West Africa Raises Test Scores


Jenny Aker
Assistant Professor
Tufts University

With Discussant

James Habyarimana
Associate Professor
Georgetown University


Michael Clemens
Senior Fellow
Center for Global Development

Education programs in rural areas of developing countries are often implemented through local agents, such as community teachers. With this knowledge, Jenny Aker and co-author Christopher Ksoll tested mobile phone monitoring systems to see if they could improve learning outcomes as part of an adult education program. Using a randomized control trial in 140 villages in Niger, Aker and Ksoll implemented a mobile phone monitoring system in half the villages, whereby teachers, student representatives, and the village chief were called on a weekly basis. There was no explicit financial incentive to the monitoring program.

Aker will discuss testing methodology and conclusions, which indicate that mobile monitoring did affect student performance. During the first year of the program, reading and math test scores were 0.15–0.20 standard deviations higher in monitoring villages than in non-monitoring villages, with relatively stronger effects in the region where monitoring was weakest.

*The CIRF series is an academic research seminar that brings some of the world's leading development scholars to discuss their new research and ideas. The presentations are at times technical, but retain a focus on a mixed audience of researchers and policymakers. There’s more about the series here.

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