Evaluating the impact of the Magic Bus Foundation’s sports in children’s education program

Through its flagship sports program, Magic Bus Foundation (MBF) India intends to improve the lives of socioeconomically-disadvantaged Indian children by enhancing their health, cognitive capability, and self-esteem in order to break socioeconomic barriers and overcome poverty. MBF is a non-governmental organization founded in 2001, and its sports program currently serves over 270,000 adolescent children residing across 11 states in India. The program involves weekly sports sessions at the community level, and includes components that promote education, gender equality, health & hygiene, and personality development.

The objective of this study is to assess the impact of MBF’s sports-based curriculum program on cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, awareness, and practice of preventive and promotive healthcare among adolescents. The study uses a three-round panel dataset collected over a 5-year period along with one round of qualitative data collected towards the end of the intervention program. A cluster randomized controlled trial was carried out in 160 villages in two districts of India, Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh and Palghar in Maharashtra, covering roughly 14,400 children between the ages of 8-14 at baseline. Approximately half of the communities were randomly assigned to the sports program for the intervention, while the other communities served as the control group. Progress is measured in two equally-spaced follow-up surveys.

The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), New Delhi, is conducting this study, with Ramanan Laxminarayan (CDDEP and Princeton University), and Jere R. Behrman (University of Pennsylvania) as the joint principal investigators. Deepshikha Batheja, Arindam Nandi, and Anjana Sankhil from CDDEP along with Subha Mani (Fordham University) are involved as co-investigators.