Evaluating the Impact of Relief Teachers on Academic Achievement in Kenyan Primary Schools
What is this about?
Researchers from the University of Oxford are involved in a unique experiment to engage policy makers Kenya in evidence based policy making in education. This is done with the explicit aim of institutionalizing the process of forecasting the effectiveness of different policy options by trialling them in a randomized controlled pilot programme. A number of policy options to address high pupil teacher ratios in Kenyan primary schools currently and previously discussed at cabinet level – but never implemented – are assessed under the direct control of the Permanent Secretary of Education with a team of officers in the Ministry of Education implementing the pilot programme and conducting the research with support from researchers at University of Oxford and University of Nairobi. The policy options explored are explicitly focussed on finding ways of increasing the quality of service delivery in primary education via employing relief teachers on short-term contracts and reforming school management structures.
Why is this project unique?
There is by now a vast body of evidence based on randomized controlled trials exploring various policy options including in Kenya. However, policy makers largely ignore this knowledge because they have not been involved in formulating the policy questions nor were they a stakeholder in its generation. In contrast, this project is fully conceived and implemented by the Ministry of Education of Kenya. To ensure ownership of the research and programme implementation by the MoE, much time and effort has been invested in building up the capacities within the Ministry. Furthermore, by institutionalizing the programme within the Ministry, the feasibility of scaling up – and all the political sensitivities that that entails – are addressed even before any pilot work is undertaken influencing the exact questions and means of implementation. In sum, this policy research project is as much about the process of doing research that has real policy impact as finding answers to the specific research questions.
What is the policy context/background?
In 2003, the government of Kenya introduced free primary education in all Kenyan primary schools. While FPE has succeeded in increasing the quantity of children enrolled in school – by about 19% between 2002 and 2004 – there is widespread concern that school quality has suffered. Based on original analysis done by the authors, there is indeed evidence that this perceived drop in quality has led better off students to abandon the public sector and instead enroll in private schools and this move has negative externalities on the private sector.
There are two primary explanations for this decline: the failure of school budgets and staffing levels to keep pace with enrolment; and the loss of local accountability as school management and funding has become centralized. The relief teacher programme is designed to address both these issues.
What policy and research questions will be answered?
Within the specific context of the Kenyan public school sector, will lowering pupil teacher ratios be enough to improve educational achievement. Do the terms of the contracts affect how newly recruited teachers contribute to pupil achievement. Is increased local involvement a means of improving achievement. Would it help to retrain current teachers. Would any of the effects be larger if these policies would be combined. All this will be researched by a carefully fully randomized study design.
How is the project going to be implemented?
This project – to be implemented jointly by the Ministry of Education(MoE, TSC, KNEC, KIE, KESI), World Vision Kenya, the University of Nairobi and the University of Oxford – will provide funding to employ two fully-trained teacher interns in 128 public primary schools: 16 schools in each of 8 areas (14 districts) spanning all 8 provinces. In parallel, World Vision Kenya will be providing training on school management and monitoring to 48 school management committees (3 members each) and in-service training to 256 relief teachers. To benchmark the performance of the intervention, the project will conduct detailed school, teacher and School Management Committee surveys and student monitoring of learning achievements (also to be distributed to teachers for assessment) to rigorously evaluate the impact of additional teachers, SMC training and teacher training on pupils’ academic achievement.
Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu, Alice Ng'ang'a, and Justin Sandefur. "Scaling-up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education". CSAE Working Paper WPS/2013-04, March 2013
Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu, and Justin Sandefur. "The High Return to Private Schooling in a Low-Income Country". Center for Global Development Working Paper 279, December 2011
Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, and Germano Mwabu, Justin Sandefur. "Why did abolishing school fees not increase public school enrollment in Kenya?" CGD Working Paper 271, October 2011.
Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu and Justin Sandefur. Does Abolishing Fees Reduce School Quality? Evidence from Kenya. CSAE WPS/2011-04
Access and Quality in Kenyan Education. Presented to DFID on 23 March 2011
Justin Sandefur, "Intervention to improve management and local accountability in public primary schools: Measure for progress", presented at iiG Workshop: 'Improving Management and Accountability in Primary Schools', 2 Oct 2009
"Teacher Interns and Community Monitoring in Kenyan School", iiG Briefing Paper 04, August 2009.
"Lessons from Kenya’s introduction of free primary education", iiG Briefing Paper 03, August 2009.
2009: Tessa Bold, Justin Sandefur, Germano Mwabu and Mwangi Kimenyi, “Determinants of Educational Achievement in Kenya since the Introduction of FPE”, in Kenya: Policies for Prosperity, eds. Adam, Collier and Ndung’u. Published by OUP, November 2010.
2009: “Free Primary Education in Kenya: Enrolment, Achievement and Local Accountability” presented at the CSAE annual conference.
- 2008: Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu, and Justin Sandefur. “The Determinants of Academic Performance under FPE” Presentation to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Government of Kenya. November 2008
Tessa Bold, Justin Sandefur, Germano Mwabu, Mwangi Kimenyi, Salome Ong’ele, Charles Obiero, Alice Mnanga, Phyllis Machio, Racheal Musitia, Stefan Dercon, Paul M Wassanga, Mukhtar Abdi Ogle