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Africa's Skill Tragedy: Does Teachers' Lack of Knowledge Lead to Low Student Performance?

Author

Listed:
  • Jan Bietenbeck
  • Marc Piopiunik
  • Simon Wiederhold

Abstract

Student performance in Sub-Saharan Africa is tragically low. We study the importance of teacher subject knowledge for student performance in this region using unique international assessment data for sixth-grade students and their teachers. To circumvent potential bias due to unobserved student heterogeneity, we exploit variation within students across math and reading. After measurement-error correction, a one-standard-deviation increase in teacher subject knowledge raises student performance by 4% of a standard deviation. Results are robust to adding teacher fixed effects and are not driven by student or teacher sorting. Furthermore, teacher knowledge and school resources appear to be complements in student learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Bietenbeck & Marc Piopiunik & Simon Wiederhold, 2015. "Africa's Skill Tragedy: Does Teachers' Lack of Knowledge Lead to Low Student Performance?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5470, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5470
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "The Importance of School Systems: Evidence from International Differences in Student Achievement," CESifo Working Paper Series 5951, CESifo.
    2. Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "The Importance of School Systems: Evidence from International Differences in Student Achievement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 3-32, Summer.
    3. Araujo P., Maria Daniela & Heineck, Guido & Cruz Aguayo, Yyannú, 2020. "Does test-based teacher recruitment work in the developing world? Experimental evidence from Ecuador," BERG Working Paper Series 165, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    4. Bietenbeck, Jan & Ericsson, Sanna & Wamalwa, Fredrick M., 2019. "Preschool attendance, schooling, and cognitive skills in East Africa," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    5. Backhaus, Andreas, 2020. "Skills in African Labor Markets and Implications for Migration to Europe," Kiel Working Papers 2150, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Aymo Brunetti & Konstantin Buechel & Martina Jakob & Ben Jann & Christoph Kuehnhanss & Daniel Steffen, 2020. "Teacher Content Knowledge in Developing Countries: Evidence from a Math Assessment in El Salvador," Diskussionsschriften dp2005, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    7. Bold, Tessa & Filmer, Deon & Molina, Ezequiel & Svensson, Jakob, 2018. "The Lost Human Capital: Teacher Knowledge and Student Learning in Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 12956, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Ricardo Estrada & María Lombardi, 2020. "Skills and Selection into Teaching: Evidence from Latin America," Department of Economics Working Papers wp_gob_2020_10, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    9. Oscar David Marcenaro‐Gutierrez & Luis Alejandro Lopez‐Agudo, 2020. "Does Teacher Subject Knowledge Contribute to Student Academic Performance in Developing and Least Developed Countries?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 88(3), pages 267-297, September.
    10. Rakshit, Sonali & Sahoo, Soham, 2020. "Biased Teachers and Gender Gap in Learning Outcomes: Evidence from India," GLO Discussion Paper Series 684, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    teacher knowledge; student performance; Sub-Saharan Africa;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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