Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Conditional cash transfers and education: United in theory, divorced in policy
by Morais de Sa e Silva, Michelle Graciela, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2010, 222; 3420885
Abstract (Summary)

As a strategy to reconcile poverty reduction with human capital development, Conditional Cash Transfer programs (CCTs) provide cash to poor families upon the fulfillment of conditions related to the education of their children. Even though CCTs aim at improving educational attainment, it is not clear whether Ministries or Departments of Education have internalized CCTs into their own set of policies. Along those lines, the first research question is: What factors contribute to CCTs being embraced (or not) by education policymakers? Another important question is: What factors prevent or enable CCTs to induce new policies for improved education quality? Furthermore, the dissertation looks at CCTs' political sustainability by asking: How have conditional cash transfers been politically sustained?

Those questions are examined through a comparative study of three CCT programs: Opportunity NYC (New York City), Subsidios Condicionados a la Asistencia Escolar (Bogota, Colombia), and Bolsa Famila (Brazil).

The adopted theoretical framework is based on a combination of political science and education theories: punctuated-equilibrium theory, the advocacy coalition framework, civic capacity, and the literature on policy borrowing and lending.

It is a qualitative study that uses interviews, policy documents, and press materials as its main data sources. Sixty-six interviews were conducted during fieldwork in each of the three research sites.

First, case studies have shown that CCTs enjoy considerable political sustainability. They have had a strong and positive policy image, some level of civic capacity, and no mobilized opposition against them.

When it comes to policymaking, the link between CCTs and education policies has been weak, contrary to what one would expect. In all three cases there has been no coordination between CCTs and policies concerning education quality. At the same time, education policymakers, education scholars, teachers, and school principals have not taken part in CCT policymaking.

If CCTs are expected to make an educational contribution that goes beyond improving access, the policymaking divorce between them and education policies needs to be considered. Otherwise, expectations will have to be kept low and CCTs' limits to building human capital should be recognized.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Steiner-Khamsi, Gita
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Education Policy, Political science, Public policy
Keywords: Bolsa Familia, Comparative education, Conditional cash transfers, Opportunity NYC, Policy studies
Publication Number: 3420885
ISBN: 9781124185835
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