This systematic review from the Campbell Collaboration explores the question: “What are the effects of interventions implemented in developing countries on measures of students’ enrolment, attendance, graduation, and progression?” To be included in the review, studies had to meet certain research criteria; for example, studies had to use a randomised controlled trial (with or without baseline control), or a quasi-experimental approach in which baseline controls on main outcomes were included. The final sample included 73 experiments and quasi-experiments. The most common interventions were conditional cash transfers, funding or grants to communities, school breakfasts or lunches, or remedial education or tutoring.
Results showed that the average effects across four main outcome areas (school enrolment, attendance, dropout, or progression) were all positive and statistically significant, although effects on enrolment, attendance, and progression were larger than those on dropout. Results also indicated positive and statistically significant effects for maths achievement and language achievement, but there was no evidence of effects on standardised test scores or other achievement outcomes.
Overall, the authors note that the effects were relatively small in magnitude. They say that “despite the statistical significance of the findings for the main outcomes, most of the effects are equivalent to about 3-9% improvements in the intervention versus control groups.”
Source: Interventions in developing nations for improving primary and secondary school enrollment of children: A systematic review (2012), Campbell Systematic Reviews