Indian state government to scale rigorously evaluated programs

July 5, 2016
Photo of signatories holding up the official MoU

From left to right: Secretary to CM Sunil Barnwal, State Project Director (SPD) Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) B. Rajeshwari, Co-Executive Director of J-PAL South Asia at IFMR Shobhini Mukerji, CEO of Pratham Education Foundation Rukmini Banerji, and Honorable Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

The Government of Jharkhand State in India demonstrated its commitment to informing policies with rigorous evidence through new state-wide initiatives that aim to bring to scale programs that have been evaluated by J-PAL affiliated professors and found to be effective. These initiatives will help policymakers understand how the original program was delivered and key components that drove its success. Two initiatives seek to scale evidence-based programs in partnership with J-PAL South Asia and the original implementers: a remedial education program in 12,000 schools and a comprehensive livelihoods program to reach 4,000 households in extreme poverty. The third initiative aims to generate policy-relevant evidence to improve the state’s Public Distribution System.

Partnering with the organizations that developed and implemented the program as it was evaluated gives policymakers access to implementers’ first-hand knowledge of how and why the program worked. The organizations can also draw on their experience to ensure that the scale-up aligns with the evaluated implementation model. The Government of Jharkhand, J-PAL South Asia, and two NGO partners will collaborate to incorporate these learnings as they scale proven programs.

The Government of Jharkhand will work with J-PAL South Asia and Pratham Education Foundation to scale up Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL), an interactive pedagogical approach developed by Pratham and rigorously tested by J-PAL affiliated researchers through six randomized evaluations in India. Under TaRL, children are re-grouped by their learning level instead of age and instruction is targeted to the level of each child. The TaRL scale-up in Jharkhand will reach around 650,000 children in 12,000 schools across 15 districts in this school year alone, with plans for statewide scale-up in the future.

The second program the Government of Jharkhand will scale is the Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) program. To do this, the Government will partner with Bandhan-Konnagar, which implements the TUP program in India, and with J-PAL South Asia. J-PAL affiliated researchers evaluated this program model, which provides households with a productive asset, training, regular coaching, access to savings, and consumption support across six countries. The program will initially aim to graduate, or sustainably raise the standard of living, of 4,000 households out of extreme poverty across two districts, with plans to further expand the program across the state.

Finally, the Government of Jharkhand and J-PAL South Asia agreed to partner on a third initiative to generate new evidence: a proposed evaluation that aims to improve delivery through the state’s PDS by using electronic Point of Sale (ePOS) machines. The study will evaluate the impact of the ePOS on beneficiary experience as well as money lost to corruption. Moreover, as many states are expected to switch to this system, the results of this study will have nation-wide implications for policy.

These partnerships were formalized through three separate agreements between the Government of Jharkhand, J-PAL South Asia, and the relevant implementing organization. These agreements were signed in the presence of Honorable Chief Minister Raghubar Das, Development Commissioner Amit Khare, Secretary to CM Sunil Barnwal, Secretary Welfare Rajeev Ekka, Secretary Food V.K. Choubey, State Project Director (SPD) Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) B. Rajeshwari, Co-Executive Director of J-PAL South Asia at IFMR Shobhini Mukerji, CEO of Bandhan-Konnagar Debasish Choudhuri, and CEO of Pratham Education Foundation Rukmini Banerji.