3ie Brief No. 16, July 2010
Good quality education is out of reach for many poor people, due to its high costs. Governments try to make it more accessible by subsidising it. School vouchers provide one means subsidise education. Vouchers allow students to expand their school choice, including attending private schools, potentially providing “better quality” education. Providing an increased incentive to avoid failing a grade and complete schooling, seems to improve students’ test -scores in college entrance exams.
However, this evidence is limited to two cases in Latin America with a well developed institutional structure, Colombia and Chile. The relevance of voucher schemes for other developing countries, and how replicable they are to other contexts, is unclear. Rigorous impact evaluations, adequate baseline data and monitoring mechanisms of true and quasi-voucher schemes are lacking. More evidence is needed from more countries to draw more conclusive lessons.