Guatemalans have the lowest education rates in Latin America, and within Guatemala, Indigenous, rural and poor girls have much lower education rates than their peers. The ‘Opening Opportunities’ program attempts to invest in the poorest girls from rural Guatemala to build their personal, social, health and economic assets. Realist evaluation attempts to understand the key mechanisms in complex social interventions, and is under-used in education research. Based on data from life history interviews from graduates, this paper presents a Theory of Change to understand the contexts, mechanisms and outcomes of the ‘Opening Opportunities’ Program relating to educational attainment. The four mechanisms most discussed by program graduates are: leadership and participation create confidence; greater networks (models, mentors, peers); opportunities created to participate in novel paid work; and desire for later marriage and childbearing. This is the first Theory of Change that explains out of school factors affecting educational attainment.

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Final formatted version with French translation