Performance-Based Incentives for Teachers in Guinea

October 3, 2016

As in many developing countries, educating the poorest students in Guinea remains a challenge. Often, providing additional funding to schools is not enough to improve learning. The Government of Guinea aims to improve student learning by enhancing teacher performance through an incentive pilot scheme that includes a financial reward, social recognition, and teacher training. Third and fourth-grade teachers from 420 schools participated in the pilot. Researchers will evaluate the impact of these incentives on student achievement.

Research area: Education

Country: Guinea

Evaluation Sample: 1,550 teachers in 420 French-speaking schools 

Timeline: 2012 - 2015

Intervention: Performance-based incentives, training

Researchers: Nathalie Lahire, World Bank; Deon Filmer, World Bank; Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Harvard University, School Graduate School of Education; Marie-Hélène Cloutier,  World Bank; Adama Tiendrebeogo, World Bank; Fernando Cartwright, World Bank



Teachers are vital to student learning, but the evidence is mixed on how to best motivate teachers in the classroom. This evaluation offers one of the first looks at the impact of giving successful teachers public recognition versus actual material rewards, while testing the usefulness of training for teachers. The results will provide policymakers in Guinea and elsewhere with evidence on the usefulness of different approaches incentives and training for improving education.


Guinea is one of the world’s poorest countries and it is struggling with low primary school enrollment and poor learning, even as the number of teachers has skyrocketed by 40 percent over the past few years. The government is looking for new ways to improve learning by making teachers more effective at what they do. This evaluation, which is being implemented together with the Ministry of Pre-University and Civic Education, will help policymakers understand what programs might be effective for raising student achievement.

Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Intervention and Evaluation Details


This pilot program covers about 1,550 third and fourth grade teachers and their 40,000 students in 420 non-Arabic schools. The program, which includes performance incentives and teacher training, will be implemented over two academic years, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

Performance-based intervention. Teachers can qualify either for material rewards, such as bags of rice and cell phones, or public recognition, through certificates and ceremonies, if they and their students meet certain standards. The standards are based on quality of lesson delivery and students’ standardized test scores. The level of rewards, going from the lowest to highest, are as follows:

  1. One bag of rice and a radio OR a bronze certificate and community ceremony
  2. One bag of rice, a radio, and a cell phone OR a silver certificate and community and prefectural ceremonies
  3. One bag of rice, a radio, a cell phone and a TV OR a gold certificate and community, prefectural, and regional ceremonies
  4. One bag of rice, a radio, a cell phone, a TV and a generator OR a platinum certificate and community, prefectural, regional, and national ceremonies

Training intervention. Teachers, selected on the basis of their scores on a pre-test, will receive in-service training to improve content knowledge and pedagogical skills. The training will be delivered in face-to-face sessions of 25 days (in total) during school holidays. Inspectors will observe teachers using the new strategies and provide feedback on what needs to be improved.


In 2012, schools were randomly assigned to either qualify for performance-based rewards or public recognition or to be the control group and not receive anything and 6,775 teachers participated in in-service training sessions. Researchers will be able to measure the impact of different types of rewards and to compare the effect of rewards alone versus in conjunction with training. Researchers will measure student performance through standardized math and French tests before and after the interventions, and will use unannounced visits to collect data on attendance and behavior, in addition to teacher surveys and questionnaires for students and principals. Costing data will also be included.

Policy Impacts

Similar to many Sub-Saharan African countries, the Government of Guinea is looking for cost-efficient ways to improve learning in the face of poor student academic performance and attendance. This evaluation will provide the Ministry of Pre-University and Civic Education with information that it can use to decide what steps to scale up for improving learning. Because parts of the evaluation, such as data collection, are being carried out by the ministry, government officials are learning skills they can use for future evaluations.