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Investigating educational interventions aimed at improving human capital formation in Latin America, particularly for children and youth living in poor communities.


Confronting poverty and its consequences requires attention to the educational challenges faced by students and schools from under-resourced and risky environments in Latin America. The core objective of the education research group at PovGov is to identify effective ways to improve the performance of educational systems (early childhood, primary and secondary education). We specialize in program design and evaluation of interventions intended to improve human capital formation, particularly among underserved populations.

The key research areas are:

Quality & Equity in Education: Schools systems in Latin America have common structural problems, including unequal access to educational services, poor quality of public education, weak accountability systems, and students’ low school performance. Our research seeks to guide governments and other agencies by providing policy recommendations for educational improvement. We investigate policies and practices to raise teaching effectiveness and student academic achievement, including teacher training, teacher evaluation and incentive programs.

Politics & Education: The ways in which educational systems are governed and managed determine how successful education reforms are in improving teaching and learning in their schools. This research agenda studies how governance and political institutions shape education policy and school functioning. Particularly, we study how political actors, alternative forms of governance, electoral competition, and civic engagement shape the design and implementation of educational programs, the allocation of resources across communities, power relations within and outside of schools, as well as, teacher incentives and mechanisms to increase their accountability to students and parents.

Violence & Education: The alarming surge of organized crime and violence in Latin America has harmful consequences for education. We study how crime-related violence affects child developmental outcomes, preschool enrollment, student learning and school functioning; further, we explore the relationship between high school dropouts and gang activity near schools, and, assess the effectiveness of government policies aimed at improving safety in public schools in Mexico.

Youth Education & Employment: Youth policies, targeted to the population between ages 12 and 24, are becoming a priority in national agendas due to increasing levels of youth unemployment, high dropout rates at upper-secondary and tertiary levels, and growing youth propensity to engage in risky behaviors, such as low contraceptive use, substance abuse, crime and violence. We study youth programs aimed at preventing risks and remediating its negative outcomes. 

Updated: Dec. 2013