Policy makers, school teachers, and educational experts have often advocated encouraging parents to become more involved in their children’s academic lives. Increasing parental involvement is a focal point of both President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Recognizing that parents’ decisions play a major role in their children’s schooling, these programs promote parental engagement as a remedy for the United States’ persistent socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps.2 The educational reality in developing countries is fundamentally different, as many children are first-generation students whose parents might not be able to follow what happens at school (Banerjee &Duflo, 2006). Schooling has long-term benefits for children but short-term costs for parents. Low-income households in developing countries often keep their children out of school to make an immediate contribution to household earnings or do household work. Many of these parents are not motivated enough to send their children to school or encourage them to study.
This paper uses a randomized field experiment to examine whether increasing parental engagement through parent–teacher face-to-face meetings and interactions in schools could increase the educational achievements of students in disadvantaged, rural communities. We focus on children in remote rural communities in a developing country whose socioeconomic status puts them at an educational disadvantage compared to children in urban and town settings. The parents of these children are on low incomes, are under-represented in society, and tend to be less involved in their children’s educations.
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