Local monitoring of teacher performance in Ugandan primary schools

Research question

Can local monitoring of teacher attendance by headteachers and/or parents improve teacher performance and student learning? Does it pay to pay for locally monitored performance?

Research summary and methodology

To achieve the twin objectives of incentivizing agent performance and providing information for planning purposes, public sector organizations often rely on reports by local monitors that are costly to verify. Received wisdom has it that attaching financial incentives to these reports will result in collusion and undermine both objectives.

But simple bargaining logic suggests the reverse: pay for locally monitored performance could incentivize desired behavior and improve information. To investigate this issue, we conducted a randomized control trial in 180 Ugandan primary schools that explored how incentives for teachers could be designed when based on local monitoring by school stakeholders.

Results

In the first part of our experiment we focused on pay, randomly varying whether headteachers' reports of teacher attendance were tied to teacher bonus payments or not. We find that local monitoring on its own is ineffective at improving teacher attendance. However, the introduction of bonus-pay leads to both an increase in teacher attendance---by 8 percentage points---and an improvement in the quality of information. We also observe substantial gains in pupil enrollment, driven primarily by a reduction in dropouts.

By placing a financial value on these enrollment gains, we demonstrate that pay for locally monitored performance passes both welfare and fiscal sustainability tests. In the second part of our experiment we fixed bonus payments in place and explored community participation, randomly varying whether local monitoring was conducted by headteachers, parents, or both. We find that parents on their own do not make for better local monitors than headteachers---teacher attendance is no higher, and the quality of information is lower, even though the cost in terms of bonus payments is the same. However, parents do make for good auditors---benefits were highest and costs lowest in the study arm where parental audits verifying a headteachers’ reports were needed to trigger teacher bonus-pay

Collaborating Researchers

Jacobus Cilliers (Georgetown University), Ibrahim Kasirye (EPRC), Pieter Serneels (UEA), Andrew Zeitlin (Georgetown University)

CSAE Researchers

Clare Leaver

Featured Publications

'Pay for locally monitored performance? A welfare analysis for teacher attendance in Ugandan primary schools' [under review, Journal of Public Economics]

‘Improving Teacher Attendance Using a Locally Managed Monitoring Scheme: Evidence from Ugandan Primary Schools’, IGC Policy Note 2014.