Case Study

Program Advisory for Teacher Absenteeism

How can understanding the experience of teachers help improve teacher performance and education outcomes?

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Teacher absenteeism is a critical challenge for the education sector in a number of less-developed countries. But many efforts to address the issue often place blame on teachers, excluding them from discussions and failing to address the structural or contextual factors that may inhibit their performance.

This was the case in one state in Nigeria, where frequent teacher absences led to fragmented learning experiences for students and poor learning outcomes. Despite state investments in education, and after punitive efforts to enforce attendance, the problem persisted. In collaboration with state government, the World Bank engaged Reboot to explore drivers of teacher absenteeism and propose interventions to remedy the issue.

We brought a rigorous  approach of design research to the problem and uncovered deep linkages between teacher absenteeism and broader policies and practices in the education sector. Our proposals, based on these results, offered state officials a set of processes to help balance state and school priorities with teacher needs. Convinced by the evidence, the state is currently seeking funding to pursue several of our proposals.

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Improving education outcomes was a major commitment for our state client in Nigeria, which had recently made significant investments in improving physical resources in the education sector. But despite construction and renovation of school infrastructure and facilities, challenges with human resources remained a hurdle to improving education. One key hurdle identified by the state was the high incidence of absenteeism among teachers in primary and secondary schools.

After a series of punitive measures had failed to address the issue, the World Bank, in collaboration with the state government, engaged Reboot to explore the causes of the issue. The goal was to gain a more nuanced understanding of the roots of teacher absenteeism, as well as to develop a set of policy and programmatic recommendations that might improve the situation. The government was also particularly interested in ways that digital technologies could be used to address the issue.

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