Cost-Effectiveness of a Summer Reading Program in Community Libraries in Burkina Faso

Cost-Effectiveness of a Summer Reading Program in Community Libraries in Burkina Faso

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5043-5.ch009
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Abstract

During the summer of 2008, all students in the 4th grade classroom (aged 11-13) in each primary school in five villages in southwestern Burkina Faso were randomly assigned and invited to participate in one of three different summer reading programs, including a summer reading camp. This chapter presents an assessment of how much different summer reading programs offered to students at CM1 level (4th grade) improved reading capabilities. Effects of the various summer reading programs were measured by pre- and post-intervention written and oral reading assessments conducted on the school premises. The scores on the tests for the students who participated in the summer camps were higher than those of the students in discussion groups and those who received free books. There is, however, evidence that the project implementers did not randomly assign all students to the programs as intended. Controlling for initial test scores, therefore, the reading camps generated about 8% increase in scores, or an improvement in test scores of .5 standard deviations.
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Introduction

There is very little recent research in African countries on the effectiveness of reading programs that are intended to complement reading instruction in school (Fuller, 1987; Glewwe & Kremer, 2006). African countries have lagged behind much of the world in terms of providing access to schooling and the complements to schooling such as libraries, textbooks, reading material for children, and after-school programs (Michaelowa, 2001). While enormous progress has been made in extending schooling infrastructure, many African countries will not meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary schooling by 2015 (Easterly, 2009). In this context, it is understandable that fewer resources have been devoted to supplemental programs. Nevertheless, the time is fast approaching when education policy-makers and private education entrepreneurs will begin devoting more resources to supplemental programs.

This chapter reports results of a small-scale assessment of how different summer reading programs improved reading capabilities of students at CM1 level (4th grade, aged 11-13). During June 2008, all students in the CM1 classroom of the primary school of each of five villages in southwestern Burkina Faso were invited to participate in one of three different summer reading programs. One program was a reading discussion group that met once a week for 8 weeks. A second program was an intensive two-week summer reading camp. Students received breakfast and lunch and participated in a variety of reading experiences and recreational activities during the morning and afternoon. In the third program, each participant received two free books, selected to be age appropriate and appealing to village students. The effects of the various summer reading programs were measured by post-intervention oral and written reading assessments conducted on the school premises.

Students in the summer reading camp performed approximately 10% better on the reading assessments in November; overall scores improved from 66 for non-campers to 72 for campers. Ordinarily with random assignment this finding would be sufficient to then move directly to a comparative assessment of these measurable benefits with costs of the program (about $50 per student in the summer camps, and $10 for the other students) and its scalability or replicability. There is, however, some evidence that the program implementers did not follow the selection protocols for assignments into the camps. Moreover, there was attrition from the sample of students between the June assignments and the November post-summer testing. There were also a few students who did not participate in the summer programs to which they were assigned. Nevertheless, the finding of a difference in November scores seems robust to these imbalances in sample selection, compliance and attrition issues. Controlling for initial test scores, the effect of the summer reading camps is still positive, and is about 8% increase in scores, or a .5 standard deviation improvement in test scores.

Overall, it appears that the camps did indeed produce an effect sizably and statistically different from those of the other two programs. The cost of the summer reading camp was more expensive, on a per student basis, than other kinds of interventions to improve schooling, but presumably the camps also generated other secondary benefits not measured here. Larger-scale replication of summer reading camps and measurement of longer-term and secondary effects would seem warranted, in order to enhance and deliver effective reading institution in rural communities.

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