Educational and Health Impact of Two School Feeding Schemes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso

We use a prospective randomized trial to assess the impact of two school feeding schemes on educational and health outcomes of children from low income household in northern rural Burkina Faso. The school feeding programs under consideration are school meals where students¬† are provided with lunch each school day, and take home rations which provide students with 10 kg of cereal our each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. After the program ran for one academic year, we found that both school feeding schemes increased girls’ enrolment by 6 percent. While we did not observe any significant impact on raw scores on mathematics, we observed that the time-adjusted scores on mathematics improved slightly for girls. An unexpected lower average attendance was observed. We argue that this reflects the absence of an active labour market and the fact that households are labour constrained and/or child labour is complementary to adult labour. We show that the interventions caused attendance to decrease in household who are low in child labour supply while attendance improved for households which have a relatively large child labour supply, consistent with the labour constraints. This, in turn, explains the mixed impacts on learning outcomes that we observed. Finally, for younger siblings of beneficiaries, aged between 12 and 60 months who were not in school, take home rations have increased weight-for-age by .38 standard deviations and weight-for-height by .33 standard deviations. In contrast, school meals did not have any significant impact on the nutrition of younger children.

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