Although more African children than ever before are enrolling in school, many students aren’t acquiring the skills they need to succeed. Among other things, barriers to student achievement include teacher absenteeism and poorly motivated teachers. In Tanzania, the government is trying to motivate teachers by offering incentives linked to student learning can improve student achievement. The evidence from the impact evaluation will help policymakers understand when incentives may be effective.
Research area: Education
Evaluation Sample: 420 schools
Timeline: 2012 - 2015
Researchers:Deon Filmer, World Bank; James Habyarimana, Georgetown University; Shwetlena Sabarwal, World Bank; Arun Joshi, World Bank
Student assessments show that the majority of school children in Tanzania aren’t learning. Only about 30 percent of third grade students can read a basic story in the national Kiswahili language or add, subtract, and multiply. The situation in secondary school isn’t much better. The percentage of students failing or just barely passing the final examination, which decides whether they can continue on to upper secondary school, has been getting worse. In 2009, 82 percent of students failed or scored at the margin, compared with 64 percent in 2006. Teacher absenteeism and poor teaching are considered two of the barriers to improving learning. A 2010 survey found that about one out of four teachers was absent from school every day.
In response, Tanzania’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training launched the Big Results Now initiative in the 2013-2014 school year. This national program is designed to encourage secondary schools to improve learning by rewarding schools that most improve student test scores. The Ministry of Education will now rank all secondary schools annually based on national exams. The education ministry requested assistance evaluating the impact of this program in conjunction with a pilot intervention that directly rewards teachers for improved student test scores.