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How Does Community Monitoring Improve School Accountability? Evidence from Uganda

Andrew Zeitlin
Research Officer, Centre for the Study of African Economies
University of Oxford

Hosted by
Mead Over
Senior Fellow
Center for Global Development

Community-based monitoring of public services provides a possible solution to accountability problems when state oversight is limited. However, the mechanisms through which such policies can be effective are not well understood. Are community-monitoring interventions successful because they improve information alone, or do they also need to overcome coordination problems? Zeitlin and his co-authors investigate this question by implementing a combined field and lab experiment in 100 Ugandan primary schools, which randomly assigns schools and their Management Committees (SMCs) either to standard community-based monitoring, to a participatory variation that addresses coordination problems, or to a control group. They find substantial impacts of the participatory treatment on pupil test scores as well as pupil and teacher absenteeism, while the standardized treatment has small and insignificant effects. Combining this evidence with SMC member behavior in laboratory games, they find evidence that improved coordination explains these differences. The results have implications for the design of community-based monitoring policies, and help to explain their variable effectiveness across contexts.

See full paper here.


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