October 2016

IZA DP No. 10326: Do Pro-Poor Schools Reach Out to the Poor? Location Choice of BRAC and ROSC Schools in Bangladesh

published in: Australian Economic Review, 2016, 49(4), 432-452

Non-formal schools play an increasingly important role in the delivery of educational services in poor communities, but little systematic evidence is available about their placement choices. We study location choice of "one teacher, one classroom" non-formal primary schools pioneered by BRAC vis-a-vis its first large scale replication under the government managed Reaching-Out-of-School (ROSC) project using school census data. Comparison is also made to another pro-poor educational institution – state recognized madrasas. We find that all three types of schools have a statistically significant presence in poor sub-districts within a district. However BRAC schools avoid pockets that lack public infrastructure and suffer from low female literacy rate while ROSC schools better target regions that have poor access to cities and roads, are less urbanized, more vulnerable to natural disasters, have fewer banks and working toilets. ROSC schools also have greater presence in regions that are under-served by government and government supported formal primary schools. On the contrary, the supply of BRAC schools and madrasas is significantly and positively linked to the presence of formal primary schools. Concerns over operational viability may explain why BRAC often leaves out remote regions where socio-economic circumstances are most likely to keep children out of school.