Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, remote learning has been introduced in Ghana to ensure children continue learning while schools are closed. Equitable access to education is difficult to maintain during remote learning, and may increase inequalities by child gender and household backgrounds.
To address this challenge, researchers have partnered with IPA and Movva Technologies to evaluate the impact of a text-message-based behavioral change intervention on improving parental engagement in educational activities, parental beliefs about returns to education, as well as improvements in children’s learning, enrollment, attendance and gender parity in education.
This household-level intervention is designed by Movva Technologies to improve school-aged children’s learning outcomes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents will receive text messages in simple English with behavioral nudges targeting parental engagement in children’s learning across grades and ages for in-school and remote learning. The treatment will include two variations by duration of message receipt and promotion of gender-equitable outcomes in education and broader development.
Households will be randomly assigned to one of five groups:
1. Standard messages for (3 months);
2. Messages with a “gender-parity boost” (3 months):
3. Standard messages of longer duration (6 months); into the first term of the next academic year).
4. Messages with a “gender-parity boost” of longer duration: (6 months, into the first term of the next academic year).
5. Comparison group: No messages during the study period.
We evaluate an intervention that targets parent engagement in their children’s education among low-literate parents in rural Ghana as schools re-opened after being closed for ten months during the Covid-19 pandemic. The programs provide actionable information to parents via text-messages (“nudges”) to attenuate parental behavioral and informational barriers to learning. For a subset of parents, messages were tailored to address biased beliefs and norms about girls’ education, aiming to equalize educational opportunities, parental investments, and time use between learning and care-work. In addition, the treatments varied in duration, from 12-24 weeks.
Results from this study will inform a growing literature on the potential for nudge-based interventions to change parental investments in several ways. First, we provide rigorous causal impacts of the effectiveness of such a program in an understudied population of families in rural Ghana. Second, we evaluate heterogeneity by general messages compared to a specific focus on gender-parity, duration of implementation, and by child sex and age. The results also inform broader goals of Ghana’s Ministry of Education to improve parental engagement in children’s education and to improve gender parity in educational attainment. The findings will inform the selection of parental engagement within the education sector.