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  • Why it matters?

    A teacher’s responsibility is not simply to teach. Teachers must help students acquire the competencies to problem solve, analyze, focus on difficult tasks, think creatively, communicate, and work with others. Teachers have the responsibility to ensure that all children—each with their own challenges and potential—can learn effectively and have an enriching experience in school.

    Successful education systems have policies to attract, prepare, motivate, and support teachers in this challenging task. Unfortunately, despite good intentions, many countries are failing to do this. Students often sit in classrooms where they do not learn. Eventually they see no point in staying in school and drop out, having wasted the most important years for skills development. Governments and societies, meanwhile, will have used up scarce financial resources without achieving the learning outcomes and quality education they need.

    Lost teaching time is a challenge facing many school systems: In Latin America, about 20 percent of potential instructional time is lost—the equivalent of one fewer day of instruction a week. These problems are more severe in remote communities, amplifying the disadvantages already facing rural students.

    The challenges are particularly salient because absenteeism wastes considerable resources. Data from 1,300 villages in India shows nearly 24 percent of teachers were absent during unannounced visits—which costs the country about $1.5 billion per year. Reducing absenteeism in these schools would be more than ten times more cost effective at increasing student-teacher contact time than hiring additional teachers.

    Another challenge is the short supply of high-quality teachers. In many countries, teachers don’t know the subjects they are tasked with teaching. A recent World Bank study of seven African countries found that nearly a quarter of primary school teachers cannot subtract double-digit numbers and one-third of the teachers cannot multiply double-digit numbers. Teachers also lack pedagogical skills to better transmit knowledge to students: the same study found that less than 10 percent of teachers deploy best practices in their teaching.

    The report Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean describes how teacher absenteeism, poor preparation, low skill level and pay, and weak school leadership deprive students of a quality education in the region.

    Our Approach

    Successful education systems have teachers who are equipped with what they need to teach effectively and who are motivated to do their best. Ensuring this requires, first, that policies and systems designed to support teachers focus on improving what is happening in the classroom, and second, that there are human resource policies to develop a teacher workforce equipped and motivated to ensure learning. Teachers must be engaged and have the right skills and professional development opportunities to be effective. More importantly, they and society must internalize the immense responsibility teachers have and the immense impact teachers have on the young lives they interact with every day.

    As governments across the world look to increase student learning, supporting teachers and giving them the right tools is a critical first step. The World Bank Group is working with countries to reform teacher professional development programs so that every classroom has a competent, empowered, and motivated teacher. 


  • The World Bank Group is working with governments, development experts, and education specialists to ensure every classroom has a competent, supported, motivated, and caring teacher who can help students learn. Based on extensive research, including the 2018 World Development Report, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, the World Bank Group has identified several teacher policy goals:

    1.     Attracting the best into teaching. Better selection and retention, alongside policies that transition ineffective teachers out of the teaching force, will have positive long-term effects on teacher quality. 

    2.     Motivating teachers to perform. Incentives are essential for effective teaching and can include rewarding teachers not only based on seniority but also on effectiveness. Incentives can also increase the prestige of teachers within the community.

    3.    Improving metrics to support teaching. Learning assessments provide teachers with the information they need to better teach students at their own level. Nevertheless, most education systems do not assess learning.

    4.     Support teachers’ professional development. Training needs to be a continuous process embedded into pre-service and in-service teacher training instead of one-off programs. Effective training must include practical techniques such as how to manage the classroom, engage students, reduce transition time, and effectively check student comprehension.  

    5.     Improve curriculum. The curriculum must be age appropriate and focus on the skills and knowledge that children need to learn. It is important to allow schools and teachers to implement change in the classroom, including making use of technology to improve instruction and learning.


    The WBG is working with countries to create knowledge around what works and what doesn’t in improving teacher training and development.

    A growing body of evidence suggests the learning crisis is at its core, a teaching crisis (see evidence from Afghanistan, South Africa, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa). Teachers play a critical role in helping students learn (see evidence from India, Pakistan, and Uganda). Research from Chile, Ecuador, and Ghana highlights the crucial role teaching practices play in explaining student learning outcomes. Despite its importance, low- and middle-income countries rarely measure teaching practices. This is due, in part, to a lack of adequate classroom observation tools and high transaction costs associated with administering them.

    Given this reality, the WBG developed Teach, an open source classroom observation tool that provides a window into what happens in the classroom. Teach was developed over a two-year period and is built upon strong theoretical foundations. Moreover, its score is valid and reliable in low- and middle-income countries. Teach has multiple features that make it unique. It is the first tool to consider not just the time spent on learning but, more importantly, the quality of teaching practices. Teach captures instructional practices that nurture children’s cognitive and — for the first time — socioemotional skills. Finally, it was developed with low- and middle-income countries in mind and can be contextualized for different settings. Teach includes a suite of complementary resources that make training, data collection, and analysis simpler.

    To shine a light on the key drivers of learning, the World Bank, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development, is designing a Global Education Policy Dashboard. It will start by focusing attention on early-grade learning and school participation. The next set of indicators will measure the quality of service delivery, focusing on the four key school-level ingredients of student learning: teaching, school management, inputs and infrastructure, and learner preparation.


  • The WBG is supporting teachers around the world through financing, policy advice, technical support, and partnership activities at the country, regional, and global levels.

    Indonesia: In December 2005, the Indonesian government passed a Teacher Law to provide training and increase teachers’ salary as a means of improving the basic education quality. The law mandated all teachers to have four-year university degrees and to become certified before receiving a salary increase. The WBG’s Better Education through Reformed Management and Universal Teacher Upgrading (BERMUTU) program supported the implementation of the law, which included upgrading teachers’ academic qualifications, strengthening principals’ skills, and evaluating the reforms’ effects. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of teachers with the required four-year degree rose to 1.7 million— well above the 1.4 million target. An in-depth study of the project revealed ongoing teacher quality challenges, which the government is using to guide additional policy reforms.

    Pakistan: Although Pakistan has made progress in increasing enrollment, it still has the world’s second highest out-of-school population. It has 6.7 million youth out of school and more than half of them girls. The WBG’s Second Sindh Education Sector Reform Project and Third Punjab Education Sector Project are helping the governments of Sindh and Punjab improve access to and quality of the school system. The projects include new teacher training and innovative recruitment methods. As part of the Punjab project, classroom observations are being used to assess teacher coaching needs and provide every teacher in Punjab with appropriate support. The program builds on the positive experience in Ceara, Brazil, where classroom observation and teacher coaching improved student performance.  

    Malawi: The WBG is working with the government of Malawi to improve education through better teacher management policies. Teachers are concentrated in the country’s urban centers and in individual rural schools that have relatively better amenities. The result is that student-teacher ratios are one teacher for 57 students in urban areas, compared to one teacher for 152 teachers in rural areas. The WBG is working with the government and district officials across Malawi’s 34 districts to improve the distribution of teachers to the neediest schools and provide sustainable incentives to encourage teachers to remain in rural areas that need them most. In 2016, an additional 4,000 teachers were deployed to in-need schools, with the goal of further increasing the number of teachers in remote areas so that all students—regardless of where they live—can learn the skills to succeed.

    Cameroon: With support from the Global Partnership for Education, the government of Cameroon is improving the quality and access of primary education, by hiring additional contract teachers to reduce the student-teacher ratio. The program formalizes the role of contract teachers, particularly in underprivileged areas, and ensures that they receive training and regular salaries so that they can supplement the existing pool of civil servant teachers. The program aims to increase the overall number of teachers. Since 2014, it has hired more than 6,000 new contract teachers, with an additional 3,000 to be recruited by 2018.

  • The WBG fosters global partnerships to improve teacher development around the world and has partnered with governments, multilaterals, donor agencies, foundations, and international NGOs. Recent partnerships include:

    DFAT (Australia)

    DFID (UK)

    Global Partnership for Education

    International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (EFA)

    Kingdom of the Netherlands

    UNESCO Bangkok