Teaching Through Television: Experimental Evidence on Entrepreneurship Education in Tanzania

Can television be used to teach and foster entrepreneurship among youth in developing countries? The results of randomized control field experiment of an edutainment show on entrepreneurship broadcasted over almost three months on national television in Tanzania arepresented. The field experiment involved more than 2,000 secondary school students, where the treatment group was incentivized to watch the edutainment show. Some suggestive evidence was found of the edutainment show making the viewers more interested in entrepreneurship and business, particularly among females. However, the main finding is a negative effect: the edutainment show discouraged investment in schooling without convincingly replacing it with some other valuable activity. Administrative data show a strong negative treatment effect on school performance, and long-term survey data show that fewer treated students continue schooling, but not much evidence was found of the edutainment show causing an increase in business ownership. The fact that an edutainment show for entrepreneurship caused the students to invest less in education carries a general lesson to the field experimental literature by showing the importance of taking a broad view of possible implications of a field intervention.

Policy implications 
In contexts with weak education systems, increasing self-employment ambitions among young students might lead them to put less effort in their education, if they perceive it as irrelevant for running a business. This might not be the case in contexts with high quality formal education where school activities and performance might be perceived as important to succeed in business. When trying to influence young students, role models need to be carefully selected to do so in the desired direction. The fact that two of the contestants on the show had dropped out of school and succeeded in establishing their own business might have negatively affected viewers’ investments in their education. While including three women as role models might have positively influenced entrepreneurship ambitions and intentions among girls. TV edutainment shows do not appear as an effective tool to teach complex business concepts, suggesting that such training requires a more standard classroom approach
Bjorvatn, K., Cappelen, A.W., Sekei, L.H., Sørensen, E.Ø. and Tungodden, B., 2020. Teaching through television: Experimental evidence on entrepreneurship education in Tanzania. Management Science, 66(6), pp.2308-2325.