Education is still a luxury for girls in many parts of the world, including India. Societal norms, expectations and deprivation often restrict them from accessing education.

As an obvious response to these barriers, governments and non-government organizations have implemented interventions that specifically targeted female students. However, a new study suggests that this targeted approach may not be necessary and that simply focusing on general educational interventions can improve girls education. David K. Evans and Fei Yuan, in a new research published by the World Bank, review education interventions in low- and middle-income countries to identify the ones most effective in improving girls’ education.

Their sample includes 270 interventions—both girl-targeted and general—from 177 studies published between 1980-2017.

Targeted interventions exclusively focus on improving the educational outcomes of girls (such as cash transfers to female students and building female toilets) while general interventions are gender-neutral and focus on all students (such as school meals for all students and free uniforms).

The authors find that both kinds of interventions have similar impacts on girls’ learning outcomes. They also find that the number of successful general interventions is greater than targeted interventions. Though not a large difference, general interventions were found to be slightly more beneficial for girls than boys.

Based on their analysis, the authors find interventions that focus on the cost of schooling, distance to schools and health conditions, drive girls’ access to schools, while better teaching practices improve their learning outcomes. According to the authors, countries, especially those with limited resources, can invest in general education schemes while paying attention to gender-specific needs and still achieve their goal of improving girls’ education.

Also read: What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions that Do Not Focus on Girls

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