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Getting Girls Back in School: The Returns to Alternative Education in Tanzania

Work & Education Tanzania

Credit: Global Partnership for Education – GPE

Only 4 percent of Tanzanian adolescents complete their secondary education, and less
than a third of Tanzanian girls who enter lower secondary schools graduate (World Bank
Indicators 2015, UNICEF 2011) 1 . Low investments in human capital are a leading explanation
for lower earning potential, reduced household bargaining power, higher rates of abuse, poorer
health, less healthy children, reduced labor force participation, and less satisfaction with life
(Wodon et al. 2018 2 ). In addition to such individual benefits, a more educated labor force is
predictive of economic growth. This suggests that there are potentially large returns to directing
girls back into higher education.
We hypothesize that girls who drop out of schooling may not have a feasible method
from the formal educational system to master the material, reintegrate after dropping out of
school, or invest in higher education. The BRAC Education, Empowerment and Life-skills for
Adolescent Girls and Young Children (EELAY) project aims to fill this gap by providing out-of-
school girls with an alternative method to get back onto the educational track from which they
were excluded. The program provides a compacted course designed to accelerate learning of the
material required to pass national exams required for earning secondary degrees and participating
in tertiary education. This program is built on the existing components of BRAC’s
Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescent (ELA) clubs, which have shown to be effective at
promoting safe spaces, creating social and economic skills for girls with promising impact on
health and livelihood outcomes. These results suggest a similar approach may be effective at
redirecting girls back into more formal educational systems.
We will evaluate the effectiveness of offering the EELAY program in reaching this goal
of redirecting girls back into education. Due to limited spacing in 25 EELAY centers, we will
randomly select among girls in our target population of who will be offered the program. This
individual level randomization will allow us to evaluate the effect of the EELAY program on
participants’ reengagement with formal education, cognitive skills, performance in the labor
market, and well-being.

1 UNICEF. (2011). adolescence in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: United Nations Children’s Fund Tanzania.
2 Wodon, Q., Montenegro, C., Nguyen, H., & Onagoruwa, A. (2018). Missed Opportunities: The High Cost of Not
Educating Girls. World Bank Working Paper.

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