This paper reports on the results from a field experiment that tests the effectiveness of the globally popular Kumon learning method in improving the cognitive and non-cognitive abilities of disadvantaged pupils in Bangladesh. Using a randomized control trial design, we study the impact of this individualized self-learning approach among third and fourth graders studying at BRAC non-formal primary schools.
The results show that students of both grades in the treatment schools record substantial and significant improvement in their cognitive abilities as measured by two different mathematics tests (Kumon diagnostic test score per minute and proficiency test score) after a period of 8 months, compared to students in the control schools. In terms of non-cognitive abilities, the results give some evidence of positive and significant impacts, particularly on the self-confidence of the pupils. Interestingly, this intervention also had a positive and significant impact on the ability of teachers’ to assess their students’ performance. Overall our results suggest the wider applicability of a properly designed non-formal education program in solving the learning crisis in developing countries.
Keywords: education, self-learning, cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes, developing countries, randomized control trial