The Economist recently published an excellent piece on the power of educational vouchers. The article argues that greater parental choice in K-12 education correlates with improved student performance, and not merely from the so-called "skimming" of smart students or "self-selection" by ambitious parents.
Harry Patrinos, an education economist at the World Bank, cites a Colombian programme to broaden access to secondary schooling, known as PACES, a 1990s initiative that provided over 125,000 poor children with vouchers worth around half the cost of private secondary school. Crucially, there were more applicants than vouchers. The programme, which selected children by lottery, provided researchers with an almost perfect experiment, akin to the "pill-placebo" studies used to judge the efficacy of new medicines. The subsequent results show that the children who received vouchers were 15-20% more likely to finish secondary education, five percentage points less likely to repeat a grade, scored a bit better on scholastic tests and were much more likely to take college entrance exams.
Habele's donor-financed scholarships are another type of voucher; a privately funded one. Currently, we are in the midst of our annual summer fundraising drive. Special thanks to recent donors Valerie, Jay, Ana, Charlotte, and Josh. We hope to continue this drive and complete our goal of two full scholarships by summer's end.
We at Habele see this type of merit-based privately-financed scholarship as an excellent tool for promoting educational opportunity and accomplishment in the the remote outer islands of Micronesia's Yap State. To learn more about the Habele Outer Island Education Fund, visit our website www.habele.org.