We conduct a randomized evaluation of the effect of village-based schools on children's academic performance using a sample of 31 villages and 1,490 children in rural northwestern Afghanistan. The program significantly increases enrollment and test scores among all children, eliminates the 21 percentage point gender disparity in enrollment, and dramatically reduces the disparity in test scores. The intervention increases formal school enrollment by 42 percentage points among all children and increases test scores by 0.51 standard deviations (1.2 standard deviations for children that enroll in school). While all students benefit, the effects accrue disproportionately to girls. Evidence suggests that the village-based schools provide a comparable education to traditional schools.
That is from the new paper "The Effect of Village-Based Schools: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Afghanistan" by Burde and Linden (April 2012).
Why is this important? Lets say you are Minister of Education in a developing country, or governor of a province. Of course you face a budget contraint. Where should you set up the next 10 new schools?