The IMAGINE program was designed to improve educational outcomes of girls in Niger. IMAGINE was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and was a component of the three-year Threshold Program in Niger (NTP) dedicated to reducing corruption, registering more businesses, promoting land titling, and increasing girls’ school enrollment, attendance, and completion rates. In December 2009, MCC suspended the NTP in the midst of implementation due to undemocratic actions undertaken by the government. While most of the NTP components were not sufficiently implemented to allow for a rigorous evaluation of their intended impacts, the girls’ education project had been substantially implemented by that time and is thus the focus of our evaluation.
The girls’ education program, locally known as IMAGINE, was implemented in 10 departments in Niger with low girls’ enrollment and primary school completion rates. Plan International, a nongovernmental organization, was responsible for implementing IMAGINE under the supervision of USAID, during 2008–2010. The program consisted of constructing 68 primary schools and implementing a set of complementary interventions designed to increase girls’ enrollment and completion rates. The schools were based on a prototype that included three classrooms, housing for three female teachers, a preschool, and separate latrines for boys and girls equipped with hand- washing stations. Schools were deliberately located near a water source and a well was installed close by. The complementary interventions included designing and disseminating training modules for teachers, promoting extracurricular activities, providing teacher incentive awards, and conducting a mobilization campaign in support of girls’ education. Due to the suspension of the NTP, the IMAGINE program was only partially implemented. Sixty-two functional schools were constructed, but the majority of the complementary activities were not implemented.
This report documents the main findings from the impact evaluation of the IMAGINE program. Overall, IMAGINE had a 4.3 percentage point positive impact on primary school enrollment, no impact on attendance, and no impact on math and French test scores. The program impacts were generally larger for girls than for boy . For girls, the program had an 8 percentage point positive impact on enrollment and a 5.4 per centage point impact on attendance. The program had no impact on girls’ math scores, though there is suggestive evidence it may have had a positive impact of 0.09 standard deviations on girls’ French test scores. No significant impacts were detected for boys’ enrollment, attendance, or test scores. Finally, impacts were larger for younger children (ages 7-10), than for those between the ages of 10 and 12.