School Governance, Teacher Incentives, and Pupil-Teacher Ratios: Experimental Evidence from Kenyan Primary Schools

45 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012

See all articles by Esther Duflo

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Pascaline Dupas

Stanford University

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

Some education policymakers focus on bringing down pupil-teacher ratios. Others argue that resources will have limited impact without systematic reforms to education governance, teacher incentives, and pedagogy. We examine a program under which Kenyan Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) at randomly selected schools were funded to hire an additional teacher on an annual contract renewable conditional on performance, outside normal Ministry of Education civil-service channels, at one-quarter normal compensation levels. For students randomly assigned to stay with existing classes, test scores did not increase significantly, despite a reduction in class size from 82 to 44 on average. In contrast, scores increased for students assigned to be taught by locally-hired contract teachers. One reason may be that contract teachers had low absence rates, while centrally-hired civil-service teachers in schools randomly assigned PTA contract teachers endogenously reduced their effort. Civil-service teachers also captured rents for their families, with approximately 1/3 of contract teacher positions going to relatives of existing teachers. A governance program that empowered parents within PTAs reduced both forms of capture. The best contract teachers obtained civil service jobs over time, and we estimate large potential dynamic benefits from supplementing a civil service system with locally-hired contract teachers brought in on a probationary basis and granted tenure conditional on performance.

Suggested Citation

Duflo, Esther and Dupas, Pascaline and Kremer, Michael R., School Governance, Teacher Incentives, and Pupil-Teacher Ratios: Experimental Evidence from Kenyan Primary Schools (March 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17939. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2031927

Esther Duflo (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Pascaline Dupas

Stanford University ( email )

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Michael R. Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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