Banner for PDRI-DevLab Spring 2024 Seminar Series: Ornella Darova


PDRI-DevLab Spring 2024 Seminar Series: Ornella Darova

PDRI-DevLab is hosting a Spring 2024 Seminar Series featuring its staff and affiliates.

Topic: Protection or Exclusion? Indigenous Education in Mexico

Presenter: Ornella Darova

Session Details: Indigenous bilingual schools in Mexico offer specialized primary schools for indigenous children. Whether they effectively safeguard the rights and interests of indigenous students or inadvertently lead to their exclusion from high-quality education is an open question. While they seem to provide culturally friendly environments where students are not ethnically isolated, significant implementation challenges may hinder human capital accumulation. Utilizing structural econometric techniques and a rich dataset, including standardized test scores, surveys from various stakeholders, and demographic and administrative data, I develop a model of discrete school choice. This incorporates as well a value-added model for the evolution of cognitive outcomes that allows for the impact of bullying, largely faced by ethnically isolated indigenous children in regular schools. The study seeks to contribute to several strands of literature, including mother tongue language in education, demographics and peer effects in the classroom, and bullying in educational settings. The insights gained could inform policy decisions and educational practices in other countries facing similar challenges for indigenous groups and ethno-linguistic minorities.

This session will be a seminar-style presentation of 40 minutes followed by Q&A of 20 minutes. Participants are not required to read a paper beforehand.

For more information, reach out to


Ornella Darova

Ornella is a PhD student in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in development economics and topics around cultural, demographic and linguistic diversity in education. She has been a consultant for the World Bank and OECD. She has field research experience in Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Western Balkans. She holds a master’s degree cum Laude in Economic and Social Sciences at Bocconi University.