How to allocate teachers equitably?

21 December 2018

By Patrick Nkengne, Education Policy Analyst, and Léonie Marin, Communications Expert, IIEP Pôle de Dakar

IIEP Pôle de Dakar has published a new study to help countries improve the allocation of teaching staff in sub-Saharan Africa.

The inequitable allocation of teachers – this is a common observation made in several recent education sector diagnoses in sub-Saharan Africa by IIEP Pôle de Dakar. A 2016-2017 IIEP study on teaching resources in 31 countries in the region, based on pupil/teacher ratio and the degree of randomness*, has further backed this up. It found that only a few countries are equitably allocating teachers across schools.

The pupil/teacher ratio varies widely across the 31 countries. For example, in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Cape Verde, the ratio is less than 25 while in Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda, and Cameroon it is above 50 (see the graph on the left). This reflects different teacher allocation policies, and above all, the varying abilities to recruit a sufficient number of teachers. To help guide countries, the indicative framework for the Global Partnership for Education suggests that countries that are lacking teachers should strive for a pupil/teacher ratio of 40:1.  

Within an education system, some decentralized services allocate their teaching staff to schools on an equitable basis, while others make an inequitable distribution of their resources. The degree of randomness captures the magnitude of the problem. In the case of Benin, which has the highest degree of randomness, large variations are observed, in terms of both the pupil/teacher ratio and teacher allocation per school district. For example, Block A illustrates school districts that have more teachers than average, but allocates them to schools in an inequitable and inconsistent way (see scatter chart on the right).

Using the results of a questionnaire sent to key actors from the Ministries of Education in all 31 countries, the study also identified two actions that could help improve the allocation of teaching staff. The first is the recruitment of teachers on post. This would limit the movement of teachers for personal reasons and would guarantee that these posts would not be left vacant by ministry appointed teachers, who can be moved without notice.The second is the use of information and communication technologies to provide the actors responsible for teacher deployment with tools to automate certain aspects of the decision-making chain, therefore making the overall process more efficient.  

In short, the challenge ahead is to identify emerging practices and overall trends in the distribution of teaching resources in Africa to find solutions that work. Through studies on piloting and the allocation of teacher resources to schools, countries and the international community will be able to target mechanisms that best fit their context, with the aim of achieving better results in the future and quality education for all.     

*The degree of randomness provides a measure of the level of system inequity in the allocation of teachers to schools. The closer it is to one, the more equitable and rational allocation is in relation to the number of students. In contrast, the closer it is to zero, the greater level of unfairness.