Can engaging parents lead to better educational outcomes for Bangladeshi children?
Parents play an important role in the education of their children. In rural communities in Bangladesh, simple interventions, such as conducting regular face-to-face meetings between teachers and parents has had significant outcomes for primary school children.
wanted to look at ways we could improve educational outcomes for children in
rural communities. Schooling
delivers long term benefits on children but introduces short-term costs on
parents, particularly in rural areas of Bangladesh. Parents are less motivated
in sending their children to school or motivate them to study due to these
costs. However, studies have shown that parental involvement children’s learning
can increase educational achievement. It was however not clear if parents who
are motivated more spend more time with their children and hence the
relationship between parental efforts and engagement and their children’s
educational outcomes may not be causal.
In order to establish the causal effects, we
conducted randomized field experiments that encouraged parents to attend face
to face meetings with teachers to see if this would have an outcome on
students’ test results. The
intervention involved teachers inviting parents of school children to have a
monthly meeting. Teachers showed a report card to a child parent or guardian,
and explained how the child performed in regular class tests or semester exam. Teachers
also advised parents about measures that could be taken at home to improve the
The meetings took place over two years in the
rural areas of Khulna and Satkhira in Bangladesh with students in grades 4 and
5 in 40 out of 76 randomly chosen primary schools, covering about 4062
students. Almost 85% parents attended the first meeting. However, the parental
presence began to decline in the following meetings. To encourage more parents
to come to more meetings, we offered entertainment e.g., sweets and Pan-supari
for future meetings.
We observed a significant increase in parental
presence in meetings where the additional incentive was offered. At the end of the one year, the results
showed that the top-ranked students gained more than twice their low-performing
peers in classroom. However, under-performing students gained almost the same
amount with more parent-teacher meetings. These results suggest that involving
parents in education has a significant effect on students’ test scores
Our findings have important policy implications.
Parent-teacher interactions can be a cost-effective tool to improve students’
outcome. Research showed that test scores improved
significantly up to 10-20% higher test scores for children whose parents
attended these interviews and became more engaged with the school.
second phase of our research looked at expanding this intervention across an
additional 200 schools. We targeted underperforming schools and focused on
girls in some regions. The project is funded by DFAT.
phase will look at interventions for pre-school aged children. We will
establish 120 kindergarten in remote rural areas of Bangladesh. Parents will
also be given lessons and training of what they should do with their 3-4 year
old children at home.
The project is supported by UK research council.