Does information lead to citizen action in education?

This study, dome by political scientists at MIT and Princeton, investigated the effects of one aspect of the Uwezo initiative on patterns of "active citizenship," specifically, the effects of the Uwezo literacy/numeracy assessment and the dissemination of a battery of Uwezo-produced instructional materials designed to promote children's learning and citizen participation.

Uwezo is a large-scale information-based intervention which seeks to improve educational outcomes among children in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in three linked steps: first, by providing parents with good quality information about how much their children are (or are not) learning in schools; second, by providing concrete suggestions about steps that parents might take to improve education outcomes for their children; and finally, by facilitating a broad public discussion of the state of education in the country.

This study focused on how citizens might respond to exposure to the types of information they were presumed to lack. At this initial stage, no evidence of impact was found. It is important to consider whether this is because the program is not working, or it could also be interpreted as consistent with the Uwezo theory of change, which calls for an ecosystem of continually reinforcing messages and practical ideas of what citizens can do before change can happen. But it raises questions about what in fact can stimulate citizens to act. The evaluation continues.

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Authors: Daniel N. Posner (MIT)



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