Innovating education initiatives throughout Colombia.

We generate rigorous evidence to support education policies that increase educational opportunities for all students.

The Colombia Education Policy Research Program works directly with education policymakers and changemakers in Colombia to innovate and test the most promising education initiatives throughout Colombia.

Current questions we are asking:

  • How does receiving a voucher for private secondary school impact earnings and employment 30 years later?
  • Do students have the necessary information to make decisions about their higher education options and financing? How can technology be useful in giving students more information?
  • How can we address learning gaps between high- and low-income students in Colombia?
  • How can we address the increased prevalence of mental health issues among students?

The problem:

  1. Education Quality: Enrollment across socioeconomic groups has increased at all levels of the education system over the last few decades, especially in early childhood education and higher education. However, education quality remains a concern as efforts switch from increasing enrollment to focusing on learning outcomes. Colombia’s PISA scores are well below the OECD average, and the national SABER exam demonstrates gaps in achievement between high- and low-income students.
  2. Equity in Access: While there is a substantial, diverse offering of tertiary education programs (university, vocational and technical training, and others), students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds access higher education at a much lower rate than their wealthy peers. Reasons for this persistent gap are due in large part to financial barriers, a lack of information about higher education, and individual behavior. Colombia has the highest returns to higher education out of all the Latin American countries, but low-income students are not benefitting from this advantage.



Asim Ijaz Khwaja

Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School

Juan Saavedra

Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Gautam Rao

Associate Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Eric Bettinger

Professor, Stanford University School of Education

Michael Kremer

University Professor in Economics, The University of Chicago

Chris Neilson

Professor of Economics and Global Affairs, Yale University

Christian Posso Suarez

Senior Researcher, Banco de la República de Colombia

Now Hiring a Postdoc Fellow

The Colombia Education Initiative is looking to hire a postdoctoral fellow for a one-year fellowship in Cambridge, to work on an analytical overview of the education system in Colombia. Applications are due on March 10, 2024.

Photo credit: Matthew Rutledge. Bogota skyline (south half of the city) from 41st floor of the torre colpatria.