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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 Group Munich.
  • 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," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 3-32, Summer.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    teacher knowledge; student performance; Sub-Saharan Africa;

    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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