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Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation Grants

REACH Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation (KLI) Grants support results-based financing projects targeting education systems in low- and middle-income counties, with the goal of increasing understanding of how this strategy can boost learning. REACH awards grants of up to US$1 million each based on a proposed project’s technical merit, methodological rigor, and potential impact on country system, among other criteria. At the end of the grant cycle, each research team will produce a report contributing to the growing global knowledge on the role of results-based financing in education.


Teacher Incentives | School Incentives | Student Incentives | Book Chain | Governments | Challenges

Teacher Incentives

Rwanda: Pay-for-Performance for Teacher Recruitment and Retention
The Government of Rwanda has established a system of performance contracts for public sector employees that allows for performance-based bonuses averaging 3 percent of salary. The KLI Grant is funding a study that builds on the existing civil service contracts, by introducing a bonus scheme that rewards teachers who score within the top 20 percent of their district on this performance measure with a merit bonus worth 15 percent of their base salary. The research will address two questions that are also relevant to other developing countries: first, whether a pay-for-performance scheme can improve teacher performance and produce student learning gains; and second, how effective are pay-for-performance contracts at attracting skilled and motivated teachers to undersupplied schools, particularly in rural areas? 


China: Assessment of Teaching Practices for Changes in the Classroom
Guangdong Province’s Department of Education has been strengthening its in-service training of teachers to make them more effective in the classroom. The KLI Grant funded a pilot intervention to incentivize teacher-training institutions to strengthen their in-service training programs.  In the pilot, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) was used to conduct classroom observations of 36 teachers and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their teaching practices. Teachers scored high on classroom organization but lower on emotional support and instructional support. The pilot established a baseline of teaching practices in Guangdong and demonstrated that classroom observations can be used as an outcome measure in results-based financing schemes designed to give teacher- training providers incentives to change teacher behavior. The results from the pilot can potentially be used to inform the design of RBF schemes in other contexts aimed at establishing performance-based contracts for teacher training providers.

Understanding Effective Teaching Practices Policy Note | Complete report


India: Improving Teacher Performance through Outcome-Linked Incentives
The Bihar state government is considering designing a teacher performance-pay program to improve service delivery in its schools. The incentive program will be based on a teacher composite score designed by the Indian civil society organization Pratham. The KLI Grant will fund research to test the validity of an existing teacher assessment and composite score system to inform this work, and, if the assessment is found to be valid, design a pilot for this program.


Tanzania: Aligning Teacher Pay with Performance of All Students
In 2015 the Government of Tanzania announced its commitment to using innovative approaches to improve longstanding problems with the quality of, and access to, the country’s education system. The KLI Grant funded a study that examined the impact of issuing bonuses to teachers linked to the learning outcomes of students. The study compared the impact of rewarding teachers for relative and incremental gains in student learning against rewarding them based on the number of students who passed a defined threshold. The evaluation found that both systems raised test scores. The simple teacher incentive scheme that rewarded based on the number of students who achieved specific learning levels improved learning at least as much as the more complex scheme that rewarded teachers based on learning gains. Given the limited administrative capacity in Tanzania and other developing countries to implement complex RBF schemes, the evidence gained from this program suggests that simple incentive schemes that reward learning levels may be suitable for wide-scale implementation, provided that certain critical design features are considered.

Can A Simple Teacher Incentive System Improve Learning? Policy Note | Complete report

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School Incentives

Indonesia: Piloting Performance-Based Contracting in Schools in DKI Jakarta
In DKI Jakarta, resource allocation to schools can be inefficient. At the same time, many schools have failed to effectively implement new National Education Standards, which govern such things as student learning, teacher competency, and school facilities. Education officials addressed both problems simultaneously by linking school funding to key performance and competency indicators under the National Education Standards. Under the new performance-based program, all government schools continued to receive the basic grant allocations, but top performing schools received an added per student bonus equivalent to 20 percent of the basic grant. While the performance bonuses led to improved learning at junior secondary schools, mixed results at primary schools show that incentives do not necessarily benefit all schools. These results suggest several potential avenues for improving the results-based program and maximizing positive impact in the future including how to design more flexible grants and incentives that link local budgeting to existing national standards.

Results of Performance-Based School Grants Experiment Policy Note | Complete report
Jakarta: Regional Results-Based Financing Interventions Inspire National Reforms in Indonesia Impact Note


Mozambique: Learning from Performance-Based School Grants
The Ministry of Education has engaged in a far-reaching reform program to upgrade teachers’ knowledge and performance and to strengthen service delivery at the local level. It is seeking to incentivize schools to improve their performance by providing direct financial incentives through a performance-based school grants program, complemented by other interventions aimed at improving local and school management. A school grants scheme is already in place, but has not proved as effective as hoped. The KLI Grant will fund the pilot for a revised program based on lessons learned from the existing scheme. The World Bank team will simultaneously support the development of management tools for mid-level managers, in particular school directors and district officers, to enable them to administer the school grants effectively. This intervention will seek to generate knowledge about how conditional school grants and improved supervision by mid-level managers can help strengthen learning outcomes.


Cameroon: Results-Based Financing for Improved Education Service Delivery
Building on the success of results-based financing in the country’s health sector, the Government of Cameroon is keen to experiment with the approach as a tool for increasing girls’ enrollment in schools and improving service delivery in two of its most disadvantaged school districts. The KLI Grant will fund a feasibility study and pre-pilot for a performance-based school grants program in the North and Far North. The lessons learned will inform a two-year pilot, which will be scaled up beyond pilot districts if successful.

Cameroon: Can School Grants and Teacher Incentives be Used to Increase School Access and Improve Quality? Evidence Note


Democratic Republic of Congo: Impact Evaluation of RBF Approach in South Kivu
The South Kivu provincial government, in partnership with Dutch nonprofit organization Cordaid, has been piloting results-based financing to improve education service delivery. As the end of the pilot approaches, the KLI Grant will fund an impact evaluation to assess whether the approach has generated better education results and whether primary schools receiving conditional subsidies have registered better learning outcomes than those that do not receive such subsidies.

Can Can Incentives to Take Home Textbooks Increase Learning? Policy Note


Indonesia: Using Performance Contracts to Address Weaknesses in Schools
The Jakarta government has been experimenting with different approaches for linking education financing to results. As part of this, it has introduced a performance and equity school grants program that looks at whether merely announcing an incentive is enough to change school behavior and student performance. The government also plans to introduce performance contracts for schools, using national standards to identify areas of weakness at the school level and to develop school-improvement agreements between the school and the district office. The KLI grant will fund the evaluation of both activities and is expected to provide insights into the viability of using incentives to support the take-up of school improvement plans. 

Jakarta: Can Self-Evaluations and Soft Performance Contracts Help Schools Achieve Education Standards? Evidence Note

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Student Incentives

Mozambique: Keeping Rural Girls in School Using Cash, Goods, and Information
In Mozambique, the rate of primary school completion is low, especially in rural areas, where only 14 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls finish upper primary school. The KLI Grant funded research to test the effect of demand-side incentives on school attendance for girls. Specifically, the study compared the impact of providing girls with tokens to buy school-related items such as uniforms and supplies; of providing households with cash; and of providing households with information about their daughters’ attendance rates without any financial or in-kind incentive. The evaluation found that all three interventions significantly increased girls’ school attendance and that providing information alone had a substantial effect on attendance rates. Given that providing information is less costly and complex than making financial transfers, this may be a promising and easily scalable policy option for governments in developing countries that lack the administrative and budgetary capacity to implement a conditional cash transfer program.

Can Information and Incentives Increase School Attendance? Policy Note| Complete Report


Zanzibar: Incentives for Students to Stay–and Succeed–in School

In Zanzibar, almost half the students entering secondary school drop out without graduating, but the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training hopes to reverse this trend. The KLI Grant is enabling the World Bank research team to collaborate with the ministry on how to design performance-based incentive schemes for students to maximize learning impacts and reduce dropouts at the secondary school level. The project will seek to answer questions about whether the use of individual student targets or teams of students working toward a collective goal is likely to be more effective in incentivizing poor-performing students, and how results-based financing can help overcome psychological barriers that might prevent students from responding to performance-based incentives. This research is expected to inform the body of evidence on how financing demand-side incentives can lead to better results.

Zanzibar: Can Goal-setting and Incentives Improve Student Performance? Policy Note | Research paper



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Book Chain

Bangladesh: Incentivizing Local Authors to Create Diverse Books
This book creation competition seeks to generate incentives for communities to meet the need for diverse materials in mother tongue languages and align with the Prime Minister’s Access to Information project. This intervention will train local content creators on how to create high-quality supplementary readers in mother tongue languages, which can also be made available for digital distribution on the national reading database. The KLI grant will also fund a survey to assess regional and national readiness for a results-based competitive approach to content creation, the implementation of the book challenge, and a cost analysis on the use of results-based financing to support the competitive creation of books. This research is expected to inform the body of evidence on how financing demand-side incentives can lead to better results.

Cambodia: Enhancing Book Distribution Using Track and Trace
Two key challenges to improving supply chains in Cambodia include a lack of transparency in data along the supply chain; and a failure by government, school leaders, and parents to utilize data to inform decision making on,  and to track the delivery and use of, books. This intervention will fund the implementation of a Track and Trace, which is a system that helps identify past and current locations of textbooks and supplemental readers along the book chain. Results-based financing will be used to incentivize the use of this data to relieve bottlenecks along the book chain and promote the timely delivery of books to schools. The lessons learned are expected to inform the design and use of Track and Trace systems in other country contexts and to answer the question of how incentivizing actors along supply chain might improve the timely distribution of textbooks and supplemental readers.


South Africa: National Public-Private Storybook Development Initiative
After evaluating assessments that showed that many South African children aren’t able to read at the appropriate grade level, the government launched a national campaign in 2015 aimed at improving the reading abilities of all South African children. To support this initiative, the KLI Grant will fund the creation of a national public-private working group to establish best practice recommendations for the creation of early-grade storybooks, the provision of technical assistance and capacity building to publishers of early grade storybooks, and the distribution of more than 100,000 books to government schools through a pooled procurement process. This intervention seeks to generate evidence on the effectiveness of an RBF intervention that incentives each of the three aforementioned intervention steps, with the goal of benefitting children in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces. The country’s experience is expected to produce useful lessons on how results-based financing can support the establishment of a public-private partnership for book creation and incentivize the development of pooled procurement among various supply -chain actors.

South Africa: Results-Based Financing and the Book Supply Chain, Motivating Writers and Publishers to Create Quality Storybooks Evidence Note 


Zambia: Evaluating Results-Based Textbook Delivery Systems  
The textbook delivery system in Zambia relies on centralized procurement at the national level followed by the transfer of books to District Education Board Secretaries’ offices at the regional level and final delivery by these offices to schools. This KLI Grant will use results-based financing to evaluate whether stipends tied to the delivery of local language textbooks can improve the delivery process and help ensure that books reach their destinations. The grant will fund the rollout of two randomized, results-based delivery stipends to district offices and private publishers, with the aim of identifying which group would be most effective to target in order to improve textbook delivery and reduce shortfalls at the school level. This project is expected to inform the body of evidence on how financing supply-side incentives can lead to better results and ultimately get the right books to kids in classrooms.


Sierra Leone: Putting Books (and Teachers) to Work for Better Reading
In Sierra Leone, the government, through its national reading program, set out to improve reading levels in grades 13 by providing reading books to every student in the early grades. However, a 2014 study in Sierra Leone showed that book availability does not always lead to use as 87 percent of students at the end of grade two could not read a single word of a short passage. This grant will test four low-cost models for improving the effective use of reading books and supplementary teaching materials in the early grades by utilizing results-based financing approaches and leveraging smartphones and tablets. Specifically, the interventions will include incentives for professional coaches, peer-based teacher learning circles, school-based coaching, and classroom observations and will provide evidence on how low-cost teacher support and supervision models might strengthen effective book utilization in the classroom.


Mozambique: Delivering the Right Books on Time to Hard-to-Reach Districts
In Mozambique, heavy rains and other factors often delay book delivery to schools, resulting in a shortage of learning materials for students. The Ministry of Education and Human Development is responsible for procuring books annually and currently uses paper records to track their journey through the education system. The KLI Grant will fund a program that seeks to incentivize districts to get books to schools on a timely basis by linking part of their budget payment to book delivery. The project will also digitize the tracking system for books and train district staff to use the system. This intervention can provide evidence on the effectiveness of combining incentives with digital tracking in strengthening accountability and efficiency in book delivery in a low-income setting.


Nepal: Uniting Schools and Publishers to Bring Books into the Classroom
Nepal’s School Sector Development Plan has suggested all grade 1–3 classrooms have at least 50 grade-appropriate books in their book corners, yet four-fifths of schools fail to meet this standard. This intervention will offer cash and other performance-based incentives to schools and publishers to help classrooms achieve the 50-book standard. A new digital platform will facilitate communications between teachers and publishers and allow policy makers to track school book purchases. This KLI Grant project will test whether technology and conditional payments can unite schools and publishers to achieve a common goal of increasing quality learning materials in the classroom.

Cambodia: Promoting Development and Home Reading of Supplementary Books

Children in Cambodia generally have low levels of literacy and many do not read at their appropriate grade level. The Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MOEYS) is pursuing a variety of initiatives to improve literacy, from encouraging book production to encouraging book use. One initiative focuses on developing a culture of reading in schools and homes and on promoting positive attitudes about reading. To this end, researchers are testing how incentives might motivate parents to read with their children at home, with various degrees of support. A complementary activity involves conducting a market analysis on demand for educational books. The findings can help inform the design of incentives to improve the production and accessibility of supplemental reading materials.


India: Technology-Enabled Transformation of Early-Grade Textbook Supply Chains

India faces a number of challenges in its school textbook supply chain, including with forecasting, storage, distribution, and transportation of books to government school classrooms (Grades 1–5). Problems in these areas lead to an estimated annual loss of US$15 million across the country. The REACH-funded intervention builds and tests a technology-enabled supply chain solution in the Indian state of Nagaland. The intervention seeks to establish clear-cut standard operating procedures and service-level indicators to trigger financing, with the expectation that this will result in behavioral changes and significant savings. Various incentives will target multiple actors within the book chain, including government officials, school principals and school management committees, transportation vendors, and teachers, parents, and student


Rwanda: Developing Local-Language Books for School Readiness

Like many countries, Rwanda faces a lack of reading materials for preprimary children. However, somewhat unique to the country are imihigos, performance contracts that all individuals and teams in the country sign and are responsible for fulfilling on an annual basis. Building on this culture of accountability, the proposed intervention explores whether and how results-based financing can be utilized to enhance the production of children’s books by incentivizing publishers to produce books in the official language Kinyarwanda with open licensing for the Global Digital Library. In addition, teachers and librarians who use these books effectively will be rewarded with additional copies and with community recognition.

Niger: Supporting Book Development, Production, and Distribution for Early-Grade Reading

Almost 20 percent of primary schools in Niger have no access to textbooks, while access to readers in any language, but especially local languages, are near nonexistent. The funded activity focuses on using results-based financing to incentivize publishers to produce titles, complete printing, and distribute books directly to schools. Should this approach be effective, it can be scaled up and possibly extended to other Sahelian countries that have similar low-resource contexts.

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Morocco: Support for Performance-Based Contracting to Improve Governance
The Government of Morocco is keen to use performance-based contracts to bring about education system and governance reform. The KLI Grant will support the development and piloting of performance-based contracts among local, regional, and national governments in two regions in Morocco.

Morocco: Supporting the Design of Performance-Based Contracts to Improve Results in Education Impact Note


Bangladesh and Nepal: Managing the Middle: Decision-Making within Education BureaucraciesIn many countries, district education officers play a key role in determining whether schools function smoothly and whether they can easily access resources. However, the ways in which district education officers make decisions and how they are evaluated for success is not transparent. The KLI Grant will fund the development of a field-based experiment that aims to better understand how district education officers in three countries make decisions. Using mobile phones and gaming technology, district education officers will be shown hypothetical data on schools and be asked to make resource allocation decisions. The experiment will test assumptions about district education officers in order to generate information on how to better align their decision making with results-based financing principles and to ensure that future results-based interventions targeted at these officers are evidence-based.


Colombia: Using School Information to Improve Service Delivery
This KLI Grant is a continuation of the second round grant that supported the development of a results-based monitoring system in Colombia by creating a multidimensional set of indicators focused on education quality. The education quality indicators include teachers and principals; pedagogic and academic; family, school, and community; school climate and well-being; administrative; and infrastructure and equipment. The new system provides a school-level view of these six dimensions of quality by collecting information from the school director, teachers, parents, and students. In this iteration, the system will be piloted in Bogotá, with the aim of transforming three aspects of decision making at the meso-level: targeting of programs, targeted support for school improvement plans, and allocation of resources. Using a results-based financing approach,  school directors who show improvements in the quality dimensions will receive increased funding. The results of this pilot can be used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of an information system organized around dimensions of quality and results-based financing (instead of the traditional outcomes or inputs approach).

Can a Management & Information System Improve Education Quality? Policy Note

Dominican Republic: Linking Funds to School District Performance

The Dominican Republic has spent a decade decentralizing the distribution of financial resources and responsibilities to school districts and schools, based on the idea that schools know best what they need. As part of this process, the Ministry of Education is seeking to improve sector management at the meso-level, by linking financial transfers to performance agreements at the district level. The KLI Grant will support the design and implementation of these performance agreements. The lessons learned are expected to inform the design and approach for establishing results-based financing mechanisms and performance based contracts in other decentralized contexts.


India: Utilizing Technology to Strengthen Elementary School Monitoring
In India, the Jharkhand state government has hired a cohort of resource persons as contract staff on fixed numeration to visit schools, mentor teachers, and galvanize local participation through school committees. These individuals often receive limited professional development and their assigned workloads receive little oversight. The KLI Grant will use results-based financing to support the improvement of quality-assurance mechanisms by empowering and incentivizing these resource persons through on-the-job training and by providing them with technological tools to collect real-time data. This intervention is expected to inform the body of evidence on how incentivizing meso-level actors can lead to increased transparency and better results at the school-level.


Peru: Evaluating Performance-Based Career Path Reforms for School Leaders
Improving the quality of the education system has been the focus of ongoing reforms in Peru. One aspect of those reforms has been focused on formulating a performance-based career path and compensation program for managerial-level staff in schools at all levels of basic education. The KLI Grant will fund an impact evaluation to assess the implementation of a 2014 and 2016 system-wide, meso-level change in policy that primarily focused on improving the management and organization of schools. The results of the evaluation can help inform policy making and strengthen the country’s system for appointing school leaders.

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Haiti: Building Capacity for Result-Based Financing Mechanisms in Fragile States
The Government of Haiti has increased primary school enrollment by providing tuition waivers to children from low-income households to enroll in private schools. To enhance the Tuition Waiver Program, the government set a goal to provide financial incentives to schools that improve conditions, instruction, and learning outcomes for poor students, while reducing grade repetition and dropout rates. The activities funded by this grant successfully created a quality- assurance system in Haiti that collects information on five dimensions of learning conditions in schools, provides schools with clear standards to meet, and gives them information about their progress toward reaching these standards. The KLI Grant enabled Haiti to develop the capacity and systems necessary to develop a functioning results-based financing mechanism that informs policy makers, as well as the World Bank and other future donors, about how to lay the foundations for results-based financing programs in low-income, fragile states.

Can Preconditions for Results-Based Financing be Established in Fragile States? Policy Note


Niger: Resolving the Indicator Bottleneck for Results-Based Financing
The Government of Niger has access to a great deal of data about its education system and young population. Such data include assessment results, social development indicators, and population census and household survey findings. The Government is interested in using results-based financing mechanisms in its education system, but the available data in their current form don’t provide the meaningful, usable, and reliable indicators needed by policymakers and donors to accurately gauge learning outcomes. The KLI grant is enabling Niger to work with the World Bank to establish a sustainable monitoring and evaluation system that will help ensure access to more accurate and effective indicators and lay the foundation for future results-based financing operations in education in Niger. The country’s experience is expected to produce useful lessons on how to establish a national data system in a resource-constrained environment.


Vietnam: Are School Traits and Teaching Practices Reliable Proxies for Learning Gains?
Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training has been improving its teacher performance evaluation system by introducing new curricula and methods of instruction, and developing a comprehensive learning assessment system for its general education program. As the country has a large amount of available data on learning, the KLI Grant funded research to use existing data to identify the underlying factors that affect school quality in Vietnam. Specifically, the grant funded the development of a tool to analyze and predict which variables are the key drivers of student performance in language and math. The experiment revealed that student characteristics (cognitive ability, physical factors, routines and habits, and school trajectory) and teacher characteristics were the most predictive categories of variables in predicting student performance. These findings will help the Government of Vietnam to design and implement results-based financing incentives, teacher evaluation strategies, and other effective interventions. In addition to generating insights about Vietnam’s education reforms, this project established a predictive model that other countries could adapt to evaluate factors that impact learning in various contexts.

Identifying Reliable Predictors of Learning for Results-Based Financing in Education Policy Note


Colombia: Development of a Results-Based Monitoring System
The Colombian government has been taking a results-based approach to education policy making since 2014, using a “synthetic index of education quality” to measure progress for all basic-education schools based on annual, preset targets. However, this index covers a limited number of indicators, and policy makers need more information to make well-informed decisions. The KLI Grant will support the development of a results-based monitoring system that covers multiple dimensions of education quality, with the eventual goal of targeting fiscal transfers to areas that are shown to need improvement. This project is expected to inform the body of evidence on how establishing pre-conditions for results-based financing can lead to stronger incentive systems in countries with nascent data and technology systems.


Republic of Congo: Citizen Voice for Education
Only a small portion of education funds disbursed by the Ministry of Finance reach schools in Congo-Brazzaville, with leakage believed to be a main culprit. The KLI Grant will finance the establishment of an open data system that will allow community members to report on funds arriving at their local school. If the system is effective, it could be used as a blueprint to set up a national results-based financing program to fund schools across the country.

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India: Evaluating Design and Cost Effectiveness of Performance Contracts
India’s National Institute of Open Schooling provides second-chance education for religious and other minority students who have dropped out of school. The KLI Grant will fund research to evaluate the design of performance contracts between the Government of India and service providers, as well as the cost-effectiveness of various levels of monitoring.

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