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Monitoring works: Getting teachers to come to school

  • Esther Duflo
  • Rema Hanna

In the rural areas of developing countries, teacher absence is a widespread problem. This paper tests whether a simple incentive program based on teacher presence can reduce teacher absence, and whether it has the potential to lead to more teaching activities and better learning. In 60 informal one-teacher schools in rural India, randomly chosen out of 120 (the treatment schools), a financial incentive program was initiated to reduce absenteeism. Teachers were given a camera with a tamper-proof date and time function, along with instructions to have one of the children photograph the teacher and other students at the beginning and end of the school day. The time and date stamps on the photographs were used to track teacher attendance. A teacher's salary was a direct function of his attendance. The remaining 60 schools served as comparison schools. The introduction of the program resulted in an immediate decline in teacher absence. The absence rate (measured using unannounced visits both in treatment and comparison schools) changed from an average of 42 percent in the comparison schools to 22 percent in the treatment schools. When the schools were open, teachers were as likely to be teaching in both types of schools, and the number of students present was roughly the same. The program positively affected child achievement levels: a year after the start of the program, test scores in program schools were 0.17 standard deviations higher than in the comparison schools and children were 40 percent more likely to be admitted into regular schools.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00142.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00142
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2004. "Fairness and incentives in a multi-task principal-agent model," Munich Reprints in Economics 20657, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2006. "Addressing Absence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 117-132, Winter.
  3. Duraisamy, P., 2002. "Changes in returns to education in India, 1983-94: by gender, age-cohort and location," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 609-622, December.
  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, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264, 08.
  5. David Card & Dean R. Hyslop, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of a Time-Limited Earnings Subsidy for Welfare-Leavers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1723-1770, November.
  6. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-74, August.
  7. John Bound & Todd Stinebrickner & Timothy Waidman, 2004. "Using a Structural Retirement Model to Simulate the Effect of Changes to the OASDI and Medicare Programs," Working Papers wp091, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  8. P. Duraisamy, 2000. "Changes in Returns to Education in India, 1983-94: By Gender, Age-Cohort and Location," Working Papers 815, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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