Impact Evaluation of the Early Years Primary Program in Bangladesh

Image of young girl in Bangladesh leaning down and touching her toesBangladesh has been recognized for its great success in improving educational and health outcomes during the past few decades. Coinciding with its economic growth over the past few decades, Bangladesh has rapidly improved the social indicators, including the improvement in the access to and the quality of primary and preprimary education.

The National Pre-primary Operational Framework describes the plan for two years of preprimary education, starting with one year of preprimary education in all primary schools and gradually growing into a two-year program. With its Early Years Preschool Program (EYPP), Save the Children has been providing the additional year of preschool to four-year-old children, who then progress to the one-year government preprimary class at age five and to first grade at age six. 

AIR investigated the impacts of offering this additional year of preschool education in Bangladesh on child development outcomes (cognitive and social emotional), and examined the benefits relative to the costs of the program. The study also examined the mechanisms through which the intervention affected the outcomes of interest, and the operational and community conditions for program implementation. This study was designed to provide evidence for the Government of Bangladesh on how and how much the additional year of preschool benefits children, and at what cost. This information may also be useful for other countries considering similar programming. Based on the findings from this study, the Government of Bangladesh has scaled this program nationally.

Key Findings

  • Positive impacts on children’s overall school readiness, beginning literacy, numeracy, and social and emotional development persisted from midline to endline. Thus, even after children in both the treatment and control groups completed the usual one-year government pre-primary class, the EYPP group still had significantly better learning in these areas.
  • Intervention effects were significantly higher for girls than for boys at both timepoints (although boys also benefitted from the intervention).
  • Program effects on approaches to learning and motor development that were apparent at midline faded at endline.
  • The program’s benefits seemed to come directly from participation of the children in preschool rather than from changing the household educational environment.