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London School of Economics hails Bihar’s bicycle policy

Global news, UK

Times of India

24-09-2013

LONDON: London School of Economics’ Ideas for Growth conference on Monday hailed the Bihar government’s ‘bicycles-to-girls’ policy as one that can be imitated globally. Researchers from the International Growth Centre Karthik Muralidharan from the University of California and Nishith Prakash from the University of Connecticut analyzed the policy to see if had made any impact on the ground. The findings were heartening.

Calling it the “most visible policy initiatives for improving female educational attainment in India in the past decade” the bicycles-togirls policy found that the rate of age-appropriate participation in secondary school for girls increased by 30% among those exposed to the cycle program.

The policy also reduced the gender gap in age-appropriate secondary school enrolment by 40%. Ground data also found a 10% increase in girls who appeared for SSC exam. “This confirms that the increase in enrolment was not just on paper, but led to a real increase in school participation,” the researchers said. The analysis was carried out 18 months after the inception of the cycle programme.

Comparisons with conditional cash transfer programs in other South Asian countries suggest the cycle programme was much more cost effective at increasing girls’ secondary school enrolment than an equivalentvalued cash transfer.

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