Food for thought? Experimental evidence on the learning impacts of a large-scale school feeding program in Ghana
Intl Food Policy Res Inst, Dec 20, 2018 - Political Science - 43 pages
There is very limited experimental evidence of the impact of large-scale, government-led school meals programs on child educational achievements in Sub-Saharan Africa. We address this gap by reporting treatment effects from a nationwide randomized trial of the Government of Ghana’s school feeding program (GSFP) on children’s math and literacy, cognition (problem-solving ability and working memory), and composite scores of overall attainments. Based on the government’s plans to re-target and scale up the GSFP, food insecure schools and related communities across the country were randomly assigned to school feeding. After two years of implementation, program availability led to moderate increases in test scores for the average pupil in school catchment areas, ranging between 0.12 and 0.16 standard deviations. Analysis focusing on per-protocol population subgroups unveiled substantial heterogeneity: school feeding led to remarkable learning and cognitive gains for girls, poorest children, and children from the northern regions. Program effects were at least twice as large as for the average child. Increases in enrolment, grade attainment, and shifts in time use toward schooling time constituted potential mechanisms for impact. We conclude the program combined social protection with equitable human capital accumulation, thus contributing to the imperative of “learning for all” set in the Sustainable Development Goals.
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Age-standardized agriculture Alderman ANCOVA Appendix assess baseline survey caterers Chi Squared test child age child gender community level control group cost country’s descriptive statistics dichotomous variable digit span educational achievements endline Epanechnikov estimated floor effects focusing Food Policy Research full sample Gelli Ghana girls government-led school feeding grade attainment GSFP heterogeneity HGSF highlight household poverty IFPRI Imperial College London International Food Policy intervention Kazianga learning and cognition LMICs longitudinal sample maths and literacy micronutrient non-parametric distributions northern regions offer of school outcomes percent of children Policy Research Institute poor households poverty line presents primary school R-squared randomized randomized control trial randomly assigned raw scores raw test scores receive school feeding regression repeated a grade school enrolment school feeding led school feeding program school meals programs school participation social protection standard errors survey round Table target-age treatment arm trial University of Ghana uptake Walque World Bank 2018