Ugandan Kids Who Watched 'Queen Of Katwe' Performed Better In School, Says Study

Underestimate the power of cinema at your own peril. Just as 2016's Oscar-nominated hit Hidden Figures showed little girls around the world that science wasn't a boys-only club, Mira Nair's brilliant chess biopic, Queen Of Katwe, reportedly had a similar effect on students all around Uganda.

According to a recent study from Oxford’s department of Economics, students who watched the movie before their national exams performed better than the students who didn't.

(Photo: Walt Disney Pictures/ ESPN Films)

The feel-good movie, which starred David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o, and Madina Nalwanga, followed the real life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in a slum in Katwe, who learns to play chess and becomes a world champion.

The goal of the study by doctorate student Emma Riley was to examine whether exposure to a positive role model could inspire students to try harder in school.

For the study, 1,500 secondary students in Kampala – one week and one month away from taking their national qualifying exams – were taken to watch either Queen of Katwe or a placebo film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

(Photo: Walt Disney Pictures/ESPN Films)

According to the study, students completing their final year of school who watched Queen of Katwe were more likely to get the required grades to get into university; and younger students completing their 4th year of school also improved their overall scores.

The benefits of this experiment were the most pronounced for female students and students at lower-ranked schools. Concluding the study, Riley said:

"This paper stresses the importance of role models for raising students’ aspirations about what they can achieve and calibrating the potential returns to education.

Through this, a role model can have significant effects on students’ educational attainment."

You can read the rest of the study right here.

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