Evaluating the impacts of Bolsa Escola programs on student performance in Brazil

Amy C Lora, Florida International University


Since the 1980s, governments and organizations have promoted cash transfers in education as a tool for motivating elementary aged children to attend school. Oftentimes, the monthly payments supplemented the income a child would be making in the labor market. In Brazil, where these Bolsa or grant programs were pioneered, there has been much success in removing children from harsh labor conditions and increasing enrollment rates among the poorest families. However, the capacity of Bolsa Escola programs to meet other objectives, such as impacting educational outcomes and reducing incidences of poverty, continues to be examined. As these programs continue to be adopted globally, funding millions of children and families, evidence that demonstrates such success becomes ever more imperative. This study, therefore, examined evidence to determine whether Bolsa Escola programs have a significant impact on the academic performance of beneficiaries in Brazil. ^ Through the course of three data collection phases, multiple data sources were used to demonstrate the academic performance of fourth and eighth grade Brazilian students who were eligible to participate in either an NGO or the federal cash transfer program. MANOVAs were conducted separately for fourth and eighth grade data to determine if significant differences existed between measures of academic performance of Bolsa and non-Bolsa students. In every case and for both grade levels, significant effects were found for participation. ^ The limited qualitative data collected did not support drawing conclusions. Thematic analysis of the limited interview data pointed to possible dependency on Bolsa monthly stipends, and reallocation of responsibilities in the home in cases where children shifted from being breadwinners to students. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Elementary|Sociology, Social Structure and Development

Recommended Citation

Lora, Amy C, "Evaluating the impacts of Bolsa Escola programs on student performance in Brazil" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3377929.