Role Models in Movies: The Impact of Queen of Katwe on Students’ Educational Attainment


This paper presents experimental evidence on the impact of a role model on secondary school student exam performance in Uganda. Students preparing to take their national exams were individually randomised to see either a movie featuring a potential role model, Queen of Katwe, or to see a placebo movie. Results indicate that the treatment with the role-model movie lead to lower secondary school students being less likely to fail their maths exam a week later: 84% of those who watched Queen of Katwe passed the exam, whereas only 73% of those who didn’t passed. This effect is strongest for female and lower ability students. For upper secondary school students, treatment with Queen of Katwe one month before their exams resulted in an increase in their total exam score of 0.13 standard deviations. This study highlights the power of a movie role model as an alternative way to improve secondary school students’ educational attainment, particularly for the worst performing students. 

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Kampala, Uganda