Abstract

We study a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program in which Kenyan girls who scored well on academic exams had school fees paid and received a grant. Girls showed substantial exam score gains, and teacher attendance improved in program schools. There were positive externalities for girls with low pretest scores, who were unlikely to win a scholarship. We see no evidence for weakened intrinsic motivation. There were heterogeneous program effects. In one of the two districts, there were large exam gains and positive spillovers to boys. In the other, attrition complicates estimation, but we cannot reject the hypothesis of no program effect.