I first became interested in the role of education in international development while studying abroad in Santiago, Chile as an undergraduate development studies major. After completing my BA degree I worked for a little over three years on education projects in Latin America, first as an educational development intern at an NGO in rural Nicaragua and subsequently as a research assistant at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). These experiences convinced me that the most effective way I can fight global inequality is by helping governments provide quality education to all students, regardless of income, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender or location.
With this goal in mind, I came to the ICE/IEPA MA program at Stanford to strengthen my analytic skills and to think critically about how education systems can better prepare youth for success in the global economy. The opportunity to learn from some of the world’s leading economists and sociologists of education has been invaluable, and the individualized, dedicated guidance I received from professors and TAs helped solidify my passion for applied research. Just as important, the small size of the ICE/IEPA MA cohort makes for a supportive and collaborative environment. It is a unique privilege to be with such a passionate, smart and diverse group of students and faculty, and I am honored to call my classmates and professors lifelong friends and colleagues.
One of the most valuable aspects of the program is the MA paper. Inspired by research I worked on while at the IDB, for my MA paper I used a difference-in-differences model to estimate the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Indonesia. I also worked on two additional research projects while at Stanford: with Professor Joel Samoff, I conducted a synthesis of evaluations of aid to education, and with Professor Rie Kijima, I explored the determinants and implications of participation in cross-national achievement tests.
This fall I will join Save the Children as a Basic Education Learning Research Specialist. In this role I will be responsible for evaluation design and data analysis and I will contribute to building research capacity in Save the Children sites around the world. I could not be more excited to apply the skills I learned this year in the ICE/IEPA MA program, and I look forward to a lifelong career in international educational development.
Decentralization is a prominent feature of education policy debates around the world. Proponents of decentralization argue that bringing decisions closer to the people will improve school efficiency and quality, by ensuring that schools are more responsive to local educational needs and empowering communities to hold schools accountable for education provision. In practice, the effects of decentralization vary substantially, given that the implementation of these reforms relies on local resources and management capacity. In this paper, I use a difference-in-difference model to estimate the effects of decentralization on achievement and teacher effort in Indonesia, leveraging school level longitudinal data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey. I find no overall effect of decentralization on achievement, but a negative effect on teacher effort, particularly in rural areas and among schools with inactive school committees. These findings demonstrate the limits of decentralization in resource-constrained settings.