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Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia

  • Stefan Dercon

We examine the effect of shocks to teacher inputs on child performance in school. We start with a household optimization framework where parents spend optimally in response to teacher and other school inputs. This helps to isolate the impact of teachers from other inputs. As a proxy measure for these shocks, we use teacher absenteeism during a 30 day period. Shocks to teacher inputs have a significant impact on learning gains. In a sample of students who remained with the same teacher over the two years for which we have test score data, shocks associated with a typical episode of absence lead to a decline of 20-30 percent in learning gains during the year. The size and precision of these estimates is identical for both Mathematics and English. We document that health problems account for over 60 percent of time spent in absence - this is not surprising in a country deeply affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Tackling health problems of teachers and/or reducing the impact of absences by increasing the public provision of teachers (allowing for sustitute teachers) is likely to have positive impacts on learning.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2004-26.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2004-26
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  8. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2004. "Can Conditional Cash Transfers Serve as Safety Nets to Keep Children at School and Out of the Labor Market?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5fp0g5p2, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
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  11. Clive Bell & Shantayanan Devarajan & Hans Gersbach, 2003. "The long-run economic costs of AIDS : theory and an application to South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3152, The World Bank.
  12. Foster, Andrew D, 1995. "Prices, Credit Markets and Child Growth in Low-Income Rural Areas," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 551-70, May.
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  15. Paul Bennell, 2005. "The Impact of the AIDS Epidemic on Teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(3), pages 440-466.
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