Projects funded by a development impact bond (DIB) designed to improve education in India saw a 30 percent increase in the number of children achieving basic literacy and numeracy in the first year, an evaluation finds.
Launched in September 2018 by the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, and Tata Trusts, together with Comic Relief, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Mittal Foundation, and British Telecom, the Quality Education India DIB, the largest development bond in the area of education to date, aims to fund efforts to improve literacy and numeracy skills for more than three hundred thousand children. Conducted by Gray Matters India, the evaluation also found that 40 percent of participating schools met or exceeded their targets for literacy and numeracy outcomes compared with non-participating schools.
In year one, the DIB helped deliver at scale four interventions to more than a hundred thousand students between the ages of 5 and 11 in six hundred schools in the states of Delhi and Gujarat. According to the study, the outcome payment for risk investors is on track, with the results to be averaged out through 2022.
However, the coalition did decide to stop funding the Society for All Round Development's (SARD) indirect teacher training program, which showed declining efficacy compounded by operational challenges. Projects that will continue to be funded by the DIB include Gyan Shala, the Kaivalya Education Foundation, and SARD's direct remedial education program, while Mindspark, an online tool that helps children improve their skills, will be added to the portfolio.
"The early signs are that outcome-based funding models, with an incentive attached, have the potential to drive quality in education and attract new forms of capital to sustain it," said Geeta Goel, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation country director for India. "The key test for this DIB has been on proving the scalability of education programs without diminishing the quality of outcomes. There are a number of key learnings from year one, which will help to inform the remainder of the program, as well as future DIBs and government policy decisions."