Education Vouchers in Colombia

Published In: Emerging Evidence on Vouchers and Faith-based Providers : Case Studies from Africa, Latin America, and Asia / [edited by] Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Harry Anthony Patrinos, and Quentin Wodon (Washington, DC : World Bank/IBRD, 2009), Chapter 5, p. 71-78

by Eric Bettinger, Michael Kremer, Juan Esteban Saavedra

The view that private schools function better than public schools in the developing world has prompted calls for governments in poor countries to experiment with demand-side financing programs such as vouchers. This chapter presents evidence on the impact of a voucher program implemented in 1991 in Colombia. Specifically, the analysis is centered on the mechanism by which the program increased learning outcomes. The Colombian government established the Programa de Ampliacion de Cobertura de la Educacion Secundaria (PACES), or Program for Coverage Expansion in Secondary Education, in late 1991 in an attempt to expand private provision of public services. The program, which was funded partly by the World Bank, also aimed to increase secondary school enrollment rates. Figures from 1993 show that only 78 percent of age-eligible children in Colombia and only 55 percent of children from the poorest quintile of the population were enrolled in secondary school.

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