Rwanda: Selection and Motivational Impacts of Performance Contracts for Rwandan Primary School Teachers

October 3, 2016

Pay-for-performance programs have become an increasingly popular way to boost teacher incetives and improve student learning. But little is known about the effects of these programs on the overall composition of a country’s teacher corps, especially in low income countries. Does the salary boost create incentives for more skilled and passionate young professionals to become teachers? Or does it have the opposite effect, in that it minimizes intrinsic motivation and instead attracts people interested only in a more attractive salary? 


Researchers:Research area: Education
Country: Rwanda
Evaluation Sample: 300 schools
Timeline: Ongoing
Intervention: Pay-for-performance, incentives
Researchers: Owen Ozier, World Bank; Clare Leaver, University of Oxford; Pieter Serneels, University of East Anglia; Andrew Zeitlin, Georgetown University



In Rwanda, where teacher accountability is low, development experts are working closely with policy makers in the country’s Ministry of Education to better attract and retain skilled and motivated teachers through pay-for-performance schemes. Although incentives are already built into teacher salaries in Rwanda, researchers are exploring an additional bonus program that rewards teachers who score within the top 20 percent of their district with an even greater salary boost. Policy makers are hoping that results will help the government recruit well-qualified teachers and more effectively structure civil service contracts so that the country’s top talent remains in the education sector, particularly in rural areas.  The results will also shed light on the ways that pay-for-performance programs can help improve student learning.


Researchers will randomly select 300 schools from five districts: 100 schools will receive a fixed wage increase of three percent above the established salary, 150 schools will be part of the pay-for-performance scheme, in which the top 20% of teachers—as determined by their test scores— are eligible for a bonus worth 15% of their salary, and 50 schools will act as the control group and won’t receive any intervention.  As part of the second stage of the evaluation to examine various recruiting methods, researchers will also look at the way the contracts are structured to see whether pay-for-performance, as opposed to a fixed-wage contract, is more effective at attracting talented teaches. Using a sample of potential teaching recruits, researchers will randomly assign a total of 150 teachers for initial placement in pay-for-performance schools, and 100 teachers in fixed wage schools.