Increasing Access by Waiving Tuition: Evidence from Haiti (2015)

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Despite impressive gains in increasing access to school over the last twenty years, an estimated 57 million chil­dren worldwide do not go to school. Abolishing school fees has increased enrollment rates in several countries where enrollments were low and school fees were high. However, such policies may be less effective, or even have negative consequences, when supply-side responses are weak. This paper evaluates the school-level impacts of a tuition waiver program in Haiti, which provided public financing to non-public schools conditional on these schools not charging tuition. The paper concludes that a school’s participation in the program results in having more students enrolled, more staff, and slightly higher student-teacher ratios. The pro­gram also reduces grade repetition and the share of students who are over-age. While the increase in students at partici­pating schools does not directly equate to a reduction in the number of children out of school, it does demonstrate strong demand from families for the program, and a correspond­ingly strong supply response from the non-public sector.