Improvement in high school education in México - Instiglio

Improvement in high school education in México

Improvement in high school education in Mexico

Instiglio provided technical assistance in designing the performance-based contract to help the Government of Chiapas scale Escalera’s REACH program. This program aimed at increasing high school enrolment in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. To do so, Instiglio structured the outcome metrics, payment function and advised on the impact evaluation design.





Type of Project

RBF Design or Implementation




project description

Every year, over 700,000 Mexican students do not continue from middle school to high school, despite the proven benefits of every additional year of education. Studies have shown that students who attend high school in Mexico earn significantly more in the labor market, enjoy greater social mobility, and transfer these benefits across generations. Research on the causes of this under-enrollment suggests that at least half of these students fail to enroll because of a bridgeable information gap –they lack strong role models and information regarding access to scholarships and the economic returns of high school enrolment.

Escalera is a Mexican NGO that delivers “mentor-in-a-box” high school prep kits to public schools in the year before high school enrolment. The kits contain the information that a student needs to make an informed decision to enroll into high school or vocational trade school—including videos of role models, workbooks, and teacher lesson plans.

Escalera partnered with the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) to deliver and scale its REACH program, and receive a payment based on each additional year of enrolment in secondary school per student.

In June 2014, the Government of Chiapas, through their Integral Family Development Department –Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) in Spanish, signed a Performance-Based Contract (PBC) to enable Escalera to reach 2,700 students who otherwise would not have participated in the program. After the first year, a randomized evaluation found that high school enrolment had increased by 6% due to the program. These positive results encouraged the government of Chiapas to renew and expand the performance-based contract in 2015 to reach another 40,000 children across the entire state.

This unprecedented PBC marked the first time a sub-national entity signed a contract of this nature in education. Its success presents a new opportunity for state governments to improve their citizens’ quality of life and public expenditure by tying funding to measurable results.

Two years later, Instiglio advised Escalera on the preliminary design for a Social Impact Bond (SIB) aimed at scaling and improving the cost-effectiveness of the REACH program. It included the definition of:

  • Target population and geographies
  • Outcome metrics
  • Verification and evaluation approach and processes
  • Payment structure (including price per result achieved, payment function, and payment schedule)

Instiglio also assessed Escalera’s readiness to operate under a SIB and provided recommendations to strengthen relevant capacities and processes.

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