Previous studies have found national averages of teacher absenteeism in developing countries that range from 3 percent to 27 percent. However, within countries absenteeism is larger in poorer, more isolated schools, contributing to unequal educational opportunities. The purpose of this paper is to report on a systematic review of research on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing teacher attendance in developing countries, as measured by the rate of teacher attendance. Whenever data are available we also estimate the impact of these programmes on student achievement.
We used the following inclusion criteria to identify potentially relevant primary studies: (i) scope: studies that examined the impact of programmes aimed at increasing teacher attendance/reducing teacher absenteeism (a measure of teacher attendance was required); (ii) geographical location: studies conducted in developing countries; (iii) population: studies carried out with teachers in primary or secondary education institutions; (iv) study design: quantitative studies using experimental or quasi-experimental designs; and (v) date: studies published from 1990 to July 2010, inclusive.
After a comprehensive search process, we identified nine studies that met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The interventions that these studies analysed could be classified into two broad categories: (i) direct interventions, where the main goal was to reduce teacher absenteeism, and (ii) indirect interventions, where reducing teacher absenteeism was an intermediate objective or a mechanism to reach the ultimate goal of improving student achievement. For the statistical synthesis of the studies, we did not consider three studies because not all the information necessary to calculate their effect sizes was available. Given the small number of included primary studies and the different types of intervention design across them, we did not perform a metaanalysis to synthesise information across studies and we only present the effect sizes of included studies in forest plots.
Our findings show that direct interventions coupling monitoring systems with rewards have a positive and statistically significant effect on teacher attendance and no effect on student achievement. For indirect interventions, we found that involving the community in students' education and providing incentives schemes for students had a positive and significant effect on teacher attendance, but neither strategy had an effect on student achievement.
Although improving attendance is not straightforward, the results of the systematic review provide evidence that a combination of monitoring and incentives seems effective in tackling teacher absenteeism. At the same time, the systematic review makes it clear that a teacher in the classroom is an important but insufficient prerequisite for improving achievement. We suggest that the quality of the pedagogical processes taking place within the classroom is also crucial to explain students' achievement.
Guerrero, G.; Leon, J.; Zapata, M.; Sugimaru, C.; Cueto, S. What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review. EPPICentre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (2012) iii+120 pp. ISBN 978-1-907345-39-5