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Morocco: Can Cash Transfers Help a Country Reach Universal Primary School Education?

The Challenge
Morocco generally has had very high primary school enrollment, but data in 2006 found that 40 percent of children in rural areas never finished primary school. In 2008, the Government of Morocco decided to launch a conditional cash transfer program to encourage poor families to keep their children in school.

The pilot took place in the five poorest regions of Morocco, out of 16 administrative regions, and within those five regions the program was unrolled in the poorest rural municipalities with high dropout rates at the primary school level. The Tayssir program consisted of cash payments to parents of primary school age children from age six through age 15, and ranged from about 60 Moroccan dirhams per month (about US $8 in 2008) for the youngest children to about 100 dirhams a month (about US $13) for the older children. By way of comparison, the annual schooling expenditures for children were about 180 dirhams on average per child in primary school. The program covered two school years, from 2008 through 2010

The evaluation was set up to test both the impact of providing cash transfers conditional on the child attending a school, and the impact of providing the same amount of money without any conditions attached. In addition, the evaluation tested whether there was a difference when the money was given to the father versus the mothers.

The Findings
The cash had a positive impact on enrollment and in reducing the dropout rate and the repetition rate, regardless of how it was given, although the unconditional transfer led to slightly better results. Over the two years the program ran, the unconditional cash transfer reduced the dropout rate by 76 percent among students enrolled at baseline, increased by 82 percent the number of children who went back to school after having dropped out before the prgoram started, and cut the share of never-schooled by 31 percent.

The Impact
The Government of Morocco expanded the program geographically and included additional grades, so that the program now reaches 690,000 students in the 434 rural communities covered by the national poverty reduction program.