At CEGA, we believe that the quality, accuracy, and relevance of research improves through collaboration between researchers of different disciplines and nationalities. This idea is central to CEGA’s ethos and is the motivation behind our Global Networks portfolio, which currently includes the East Africa Social Science Translation collaborative (EASST), the Working Group on African Political Economy (WGAPE), and the BRAC-CEGA Learning Collaborative (the BCLC).
CEGA is excited to announce funding for four evaluations through the BRAC-CEGA learning collaborative, co-led by CEGA and BRAC researchers. These projects — highlighted below — will span the next two years, directly contributing to BRAC’s programming and inspiring other partners in Tanzania, Afghanistan, Uganda and beyond.
Getting Girls Back into School: The Returns to Alternative Education in Tanzania
BRAC Investigator: SK Tariquzzaman, BRAC Tanzania
CEGA Investigator; Ketki Sheth, UC Merced
In Tanzania, 4% of adolescents complete their secondary education and less than 30% of Tanzanian girls who enter lower secondary schools graduate. Though not fully understood, researchers hypothesize that girls who drop out of school due to temporary shocks may not have a feasible method from the formal education systems to master the material and reintegrate into school.
Tariquzzaman and Sheth intend to evaluate the “Education, Empowerment and Life-skills for Adolescent Girls and Young Children (EELAY)” to determine if providing a high-value accelerated alternative tutoring program will help girls reintegrate into the education system. EELAY includes 1) alternative secondary education under the Institute of Adult Education in Tanzania; 2) the creation of early childhood development centers; 3) life skills training; 4) financial literacy training; 5) safe spaces for adolescents club; and 6) community participation in the promotion of girls’ education and rights. Girls’ engagement with formal education, cognitive skills, labor market success, psychosocial wellbeing, and engagement in risky behaviors will be measured and compared to a pure control and to BRAC’s flagship Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) program, which only includes components 3–6.
Evaluating peer-to-peer mentorship and human capital development among adolescent girls in Afghanistan
BRAC Investigator: Abdul Alim, BRAC Afghanistan
CEGA Investigator: Elizabeth Lyons, UC San Diego
Afghanistan has long had one of the poorest primary and secondary education records in the world, The overall literacy rate is 26.2%, with females lagging significantly behind males at 12.5% (compared to 39.3% for males.)
Mentorship for girls could have a significant impact on education outcomes in the country — Alim and Lyons will contribute to this literature by evaluating a peer-to-peer mentorship program for girls in grade 6 and 8 in Afghanistan. During the first two years of the study, the evaluation will compare the performance and self-esteem of girls who receive and give mentorship in government schools where the mentorship program is supported, with similar students in government schools where the mentorship program is not supported. The mentorship program is part of BRAC International in Afghanistan’s “Community Based Education for Marginalised Girls” program.
Take up and Impact of Digital Repayment in Microfinance in Uganda
BRAC Investigator: Denise Ferris, BRAC Uganda
CEGA Investigators: Fred Finan, UC Berkeley; Isabelle Cohen, UC Berkeley
Recent years have seen rapid digitization in developing countries, from mobile money platforms to biometric smart cards — however, relatively little is known on the economic and social effects of switching to mobile money.
Ferris, Finan, and Cohen will conduct a randomized evaluation in Uganda to 1) analyze the take-up of digital repayment options for microfinance loans; 2) test mechanisms through which digital repayment changes microfinance (specifically examining social cohesion and decreased observability of repayment, which could both increase default rates); and 3) look at the impact of compelling unwilling individuals to repay digitally. The evaluation will be implemented with BRAC International’s Microfinance program in Uganda.
Meet Your Future: Job Search Efforts and Aspirations of Young Jobseekers
BRAC Investigator: Mary Namubiru, BRAC Uganda; Munshi Sulaiman, BRAC Uganda
CEGA Investigator: Jeremy Magruder, UC Berkeley; Livia Alfonsi, UC Berkeley
Job Seekers in developing country contexts face many barriers while searching for quality employment; including lack of information about how or where to search for jobs and not understanding their skills in relations to what employers want (resulting in distorted expectations of wage levels and working conditions). These barriers are especially magnified for young job seekers who are just beginning to enter labor markets. The researchers will build off of a previous paper by Alfonsi et al on youth unemployment in Uganda to 1) study how barriers in access to information can affect job search efforts; 2) how career-coaching and job search assistance from mentors could help influence expectations and labor market trajectories; and 3) how the trainees’ level of identification with their mentors helps influence their aspirations. They will work with BRAC Uganda’s Vocational Training Institutes, and the results of the study will inform the creation of a BRAC alumni program that connects current trainees to past beneficiaries.
More About the BRAC-CEGA Learning Collaborative (BCLC)
The BCLC has funded joint research projects between BRAC researchers and CEGA affiliates since 2012. Our first-ever BRAC-CEGA Fellow, Narayan Das, recently graduated with his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley. Through the BCLC, he was funded to collaborate with Alain de Janvry and Elisabeth Sadoulet, which resulted in several publications including: “Credit and Land Contracting: A Test of the Theory of Sharecropping” (forthcoming, American Journal of Agricultural Economics); and “Migration as a Risky Enterprise: A Diagnostic for Bangladesh” (International Migration Review).
The BCLC has been generously supported by the International Development Research Centre since 2016. The program is supporting six visiting fellows, a research matchmaking workshop, and several collaborative research grants between CEGA faculty and BRAC International staff (based in Uganda) which have just been awarded. To date, we’ve brought two fellows (Danish Us Salam and Patrick Olobo, both research staff at BRAC) for deep training in experimental and quasi-experimental research methods that could be used to evaluate the impact of BRAC’s programs. We also organized a well-attended Research Matchmaking and Training Workshop in July 2018 in Uganda, which involved 4 faculty affiliates, several CEGA affiliated graduate students, and 38 BRAC staff members. The matchmaking workshop was highly successful in matching interests and resulted in 5 of the 9 applications to our most recent research funding competition.