9. What can be learned from organisational audits on teacher management?

Teacher effectiveness is closely related to their motivation, and the latter is influenced by the way in which they are managed. Inadequate management can lead teachers and teacher managers to adopt behaviours that influence their distribution and utilisation, with negative effects on the effectiveness and the quality of the education systems. Teacher management is related to its organisational framework, i.e. the structures, rules and procedures, tools, management personnel, communication and social dialogue.


Analysing management structures, through the assessment of their mandates and responsibilities (Sack and Saïdi, 1997), enables identification of the share of the ministry of education’s operational control in the management of education sector personnel. At national level, the ministry of education does not have sole involvement in teacher management and, within the ministry itself, several structures play a role, such as the human resources department, the department of primary/secondary education and the planning department. In addition, Teaching Service Commissions are in charge of recruiting teachers in Anglophone Africa. Problems of coordination can arise from the diversity of structures if responsibilities and articulations of responsibilities are not clearly defined. Teacher pay management is an eloquent example (VSO, 2002). In some countries, newly recruited teachers must wait before figuring on the payroll and then experience numerous payment delays, as in Ghana, where up to 50% of teachers interviewed in rural schools say they are not paid on time (VSO, 2002). Also, the limited mandate of the ministries of education in the field of human resources reduces their autonomy and their capacity to develop and implement effective teacher management strategies. Thus, at central and ministry level, the ministries rarely have any control over the reward and incentive system applied to teachers, and which is often common to all civil servants. At decentralised level, the ill-adapted formulation and distribution of allocated tasks and the lack of resources can limit the capacity of staff to intervene effectively in teacher management. While many countries have engaged in reforms introducing the decentralisation of teacher management tasks, this often takes place without a clear framework for the delegation of competencies and the necessary resources.

Rules and procedures

Understanding the operations of a ministry of education requires “a clear delineation of the network of procedures, rules and regulations (PRR) currently on the books” (Sack and Saïdi, 1997: 42). PRR generally apply to the administrative aspects of behaviour in a Ministry of National Education, for example “Who (…) has formal power (…) to authorise, approve or recommend expenditures, staff travel, staff leave, staff transfers, promotion (…)” (Sack and Saïdi, 1997: 42). The analysis of the PRR and their implications focuses in particular on internal coherence and consistency, knowledge and respect. Among the difficulties frequently observed are the non-existence of rules and/or absence of dissemination of these rules, creating “conflicts, power voids, overlapping and duplication of efforts” in many African administrations (Göttelmann-Duret and Hogan, 1998: 38). Another challenge to teacher management frequently encountered is the existence of inappropriate or little-enforced norms. For example, the norms and criteria applied to assignments or transfers accentuate the problems in some cases rather than settling them. The non-application of teachers’ codes of conduct is also a problem, particularly in terms of ethics and absenteeism. In fact, the respect of ethical norms and of the rules of professional conduct must be considered together with the question of rules and procedures. Even when formal rules and procedures seem to be rational, “organisation deviance” is observed in many fields of teacher management. This distorts the deployment and promotion process and demotivates teachers who respect the rules. When circumvention of the rules or corruption is public knowledge, and sanctions are not applied, this can undermine teachers’ confidence in the management structures. Many cases of corruption, of political interference and favouritism in the process of assigning teachers are observed (VSO, 2002; Hallak and Poisson 2006; Bennell and Akyeampong 2007). Besides, official sanctions are seldom applied as demonstrated by the example of absenteeism in India (World Bank, 23 March 2006). This is linked more particularly to the absence of authority of head teachers (Bennell, 2007) and to the complex and lengthy disciplinary procedures.

Human resources management and monitoring tools

To be effective, managers need to benefit from an adapted management information system. According to Sack and Saïdi, “A national ministry of education can be characterised by: the quantity of effective information it produces; the quality of that information; its availability for those concerned both inside and outside the ministry; and the time taken for the information to be available and used” (1997: 47). Now, despite considerable progress over the last two decades, effective information systems are still lacking in many developing countries. Managers in the education sector generally have to make do with incomplete, obsolete and unreliable information databases, which are not interconnected (Göttelmann-Duret and Hogan, 2008). For instance, they rarely know precisely the number of in-post teachers, and even less their exact professional and personal status. The situation is made worse by the absence of effective monitoring devices to check the accuracy of data collected.

Management personnel

According to Sack and Saïdi, « Staff are the most precious resource of a ministry of national education: it is they who (…) determine the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency. Recognising this implies taking a close look at how they are recruited and the adequacy of their qualifications for the tasks required of them” (1997: 53). Teachers and non-teaching staff in pedagogical and administrative positions are taken into account here. The poor quality of a part of the management staff and the lack of compatibility between their profile and the positions filled represent a visible constraint on the effective management of human resources. In reality, this results from failings on three levels: candidate profiles (the majority of administrative staff is made up of teachers and inspectors); recruitment procedures (frequent absence of true procedures, requiring the announcement of a post with a precise mandate) and organisation of vacancies (ministries rarely have a precise idea of the number of posts necessary in each unit and of the qualification criteria required for candidates to these posts) (De Grauwe et al., 2009).

Communication and social dialogue

It is often noted that important information does not always reach the teachers, in particular in schools that are rarely visited. Head teachers and teachers are not always involved in consultations. Now, the main source of teacher demotivation is their lack of participation in the decision processes concerning them (VSO, 2002). The limited involvement of teachers in the consultation processes is often due to organisational reasons: lack of time, potentially high costs, uncertainty of reaching a consensus and risk of demagogy. In addition, teacher representatives do not always have their say in the negotiations when external donors are involved (GCE, 2006: 52). While the opinions of teachers are crucial for the development and effective implementation of reforms, the way in which their opinion should be collected is complex, in so much as the modalities may impact – stimulate or, on the contrary, block – a reform process.



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