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The Need for Accountability in Education in Developing Countries


  • Isaac M. Mbiti


Despite the rapid growth in enrollment rates across the developing world, there are major concerns about the quality of education that children receive. Across numerous developing countries, recent learning assessments have revealed that children are not able to develop basic numeracy and literary skills. These low levels of learning are the result of a number of interrelated factors, many of which reflect the low levels of accountability across multiple levels of the education system. In this paper, I document the main education challenges facing developing countries, including the lack of accountability among teachers and school management. I also review recent literature that documents the effectiveness of interventions aimed at addressing these accountability issues. Finally, I assess the potential for the market to improve accountability in the education sector in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Isaac M. Mbiti, 2016. "The Need for Accountability in Education in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 109-132, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:30:y:2016:i:3:p:109-32
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.30.3.109

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
    2. Harold Alderman & Peter F. Orazem & Elizabeth M. Paterno, 2001. "School Quality, School Cost, and the Public/Private School Choices of Low-Income Households in Pakistan," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 304-326.
    3. Tahir Andrabi & Jishnu Das & Asim Ijaz Khwaja & Tristan Zajonc, 2011. "Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 29-54, July.
    4. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
    5. Alderman, Harold & Kim, Jooseop & Orazem, Peter F., 2003. "Design, evaluation, and sustainability of private schools for the poor: the Pakistan urban and rural fellowship school experiments," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 265-274, June.
    6. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Stuti Khemani, 2010. "Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, February.
    7. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, 2013. "Students today, teachers tomorrow: Identifying constraints on the provision of education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-14.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eiji Koazuka, 2018. "Enlightening Communities and Parents for Improving Student Learning Evidence from Randomized Experiment in Niger," Working Papers 166, JICA Research Institute.
    2. Maluccio, John A. & Hussein, Mohamed & Abuya, Benta & Muluve, Eva & Muthengi, Eunice & Austrian, Karen, 2018. "Adolescent girls’ primary school mobility and educational outcomes in urban Kenya," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 75-87.
    3. Konstantin Büchel & Martina Jakob & Christoph Kühnhanss & Daniel Steffen & Aymo Brunetti, 2020. "The Relative Effectiveness of Teachers and Learning Software: Evidence from a Field Experiment in El Salvador," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 36, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
    4. Isaac Mbiti & Mauricio Romero & Youdi Schipper, 2019. "Designing Effective Teacher Performance Pay Programs: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania," NBER Working Papers 25903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Aker, Jenny C. & Ksoll, Christopher, 2019. "Call me educated: Evidence from a mobile phone experiment in Niger✰," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 239-257.
    6. Montfort Mlachila & Tlhalefang Moeletsi, 2019. "Struggling to Make the Grade: A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Weak Outcomes of South Africa’s Education System," IMF Working Papers 19/47, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Bold, Tessa & Kimenyi, Mwangi & Mwabu, Germano & Ng’ang’a, Alice & Sandefur, Justin, 2018. "Experimental evidence on scaling up education reforms in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 1-20.
    8. Islam, Asad, 2019. "Parent–teacher meetings and student outcomes: Evidence from a developing country," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 273-304.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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